Originally opened in 1970 as part of the extension of the passenger rail line that today connects downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport, the Belmont Blue Line Station serves 1.8 million subway and bus riders each year. But the facility, located in the northwest side of the neighborhood of Avondale, has never been renovated and is badly in need of an overhaul. Fortunately, it is soon to receive a $15 million upgrade, funded from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) capital budget. The project could be completed as early as the end of 2017.
The revamp, designed by Ross Barney Architects, who have done other work for the CTA, including renovations of the Morgan Street and Cermak-McMormick stations, will offer amenities such as prepaid boarding for bus riders. But the project’s defining feature will be a striking winglike canopy of steel-and-polycarbonate panels.
In renderings, the new shelter, where people will wait for their buses to arrive, seems to recall a bird in flight. However, Carol Ross Barney, design principal, says that its inspiration was a faux waterfall once located not far from the station. The popular neighborhood landmark, built by the owner of the Olson Rug Company next to his factory, was replaced by a parking lot decades ago. “We thought it would give the older generation a chance to recall the waterfall, without being slavish to the original,” she says. “And it will give younger people the opportunity to hear stories about the place.”