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Now open: Belmont Gateway’s dramatic canopy inspired by Avondale’s lost waterfall

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Carol Ross Barney created a memorable landmark for the city’s most popular rail and bus station

The recently completed Belmont Blue Line station.
The Chicago Mayor’s Office/CTA via Twitter

When architect Carol Ross Barney was planning the design of the new Belmont rail and bus station, she was asked to create a structure that would be a signifier for the neighborhood. In response, the massively upgraded station was adorned with a bright blue and white steel canopy.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Barney explained that while growing up in Chicago she vividly remembers the neighborhood’s long-gone Olson Rug Park and waterfall. The 22-acre park opened in 1935 was an oasis in an industrial landscape—it left an impression on the architect and many residents while it existed. The sweeping, vivid blue glass is meant to mimic that memory of the waterfall—and now acts as a new landmark for the area.

Barney’s architecture firm has worked on a handful of public space projects including libraries, transit, and parks. She’s well-known for working on the Chicago Riverwalk and recently completed the new eco-friendly River North McDonald’s. She’s worked closely with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and at the ribbon-cutting said he “understands the value of good design and how it can increase the value throughout the city.”

The Belmont Blue rail and bus station is the CTA’s most popular bus and rail facility with 1.7 million entries per year, said Dorval R. Carter, Jr. President of the CTA at the ribbon cutting. It is the seventh most traveled station on the Blue Line and the third busiest stop for bus lines No. 77 and 80. After 50 years, the $17 million dollar project has brought much-needed upgrades to the street entrance, bus platform, and rail station that include:

  • Faster boarding times with a permanent prepaid bus boarding area
  • New LED lighting and more additional overhead heaters while you wait for the bus
  • An enhanced PA system, bus and train tracker screens
  • A new concrete platform, repaved surfaces, and landscaping

This is the ninth of fourteen stations that have been redesigned as part of the $492 million Your New Blue program. The transit project is the largest investment in the Blue Line since it was extended to O’hare Airport 30 years ago.