FD19 Competition: The Better Block Invites You to Rethink the Average Bus Stop

On May 4, the Better Block Foundation is challenging nine teams to find a solution to improve air quality at Dallas bus stops.

The Better Block Foundation is challenging Dallas to redesign its bus stops.

This Saturday, May 4, the Better Block is hosting its FD19 competition. Inspired by local activists who’ve noticed poor air quality at bus stops, FD19 is pitting nine teams against each other to find a solution.

Showcasing their designs is City Lab High School, UTA grads, creatives of all ages, two architecture firms, two landscape architecture firms, and a team from Boston. Each participant is tasked with building a design from limited digitally fabricated supplies and a tight budget, while adhering to DART’s specs.

The Better Block’s Director, Krista Nightengale, cited a couple reasons that fueled this year’s event.

For starters, Downwinders at Risk, a DFW-based grassroots clean air group, brought to the Better Block’s attention a recent study that showed PM (particulate matter) exposure could be cut by 30-40 percent by rethinking bus stops. “We want to think about how to reposition the bus stop to better protect people as they wait,” Nightengale explained.

Back in December, D Magazine reported that Downwinders at Risk says that by rotating DART bus shelters 180 degrees, PM levels could be significantly reduced. At the time, the two organizations were in discussion with the Better Block to propose a backward bus stop for DART.

“[Downwinders at Risk Director Jim] Schermbeck has brought his idea to DART staff and board members, one of whom, Jon-Bertrell Killen, told him that DART had never considered the risk PM pollution poses to its riders until Downwinders brought it up,” Tim Rogers wrote.

Second, Nightengale said that oftentimes, she’s been waiting for the bus at a stop that’s “literally a pole in the ground.” So, she asked herself: “How can we use what we do to give folks a place to sit and give them shade? And how can we make bus stops fun?

In the past, the nonprofit has implemented similar competitions that involve assembling a structure—like a pavilion or a pop-up retail stand—that has the potential to enhance communal spots.

Because at its core, that’s what the Better Block is all about: promoting healthy, vibrant neighborhoods by educating, equipping, and empowering communities to reshape and reactivate built environments.

The FD19 competition is May 4 from 6-9 pm at 700 West Davis Street. There, outdoor music, vendors, and voting will accompany the teams assembling their designs. Prize money and a trophy will be awarded. Check out all the teams here.

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