Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Anacostia River and considering the bridges as a unit and as a premier element of public art and civic architecture

Over the years I have written pieces about the Anacostia River, including

-- Wanted: A comprehensive plan for the "Anacostia River East" corridor

More recently I wrote

-- DC has a big "Garden Festival" opportunity in the Anacostia River

Anacostia Overviewinspired by the way that Germany leverages the "International Building Exposition" and the "International Garden Festival" as urban design and revitalization intervention exercises to foster physical improvement of communities, and because I am participating on the Design Advisory Committee for the 11th Street Bridge Park project.

That project, the reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges and the coming reconstruction of South Capitol Bridge as well as the "need" to increase slightly the height of the bridge over New York Avenue to enable river navigability for boats has also made me think that DC and its transportation agency could think of the bridges that cross the river as a cohesive unit, as an element of civic infrastructure and art.

Instead we get this, proudly described as the city's largest public art project, a sculpture on the New York Avenue bridge over the Union Station railyard.

I think it's pretty hideous, definitely designed with little consideration or acknowledgement of the city's use of sculpture as public art in parks and circles as an element of the City Beautiful urban design movement.
Gateway Wings, New York Avenue Bridge Gateway, designed by Kent Bloomer Studio
Gateway Wings, New York Avenue Bridge Gateway, designed by Kent Bloomer Studio.

Gen. Nathanael Greene, Stanton Park, DC
Statue of Gen. Nathanael Greene, Stanton Park, DC.

But other cities offer other examples, including Hamburg, often called the "City of Bridges" because it has somewhere between 2,300 and 2,500 bridges crossing rivers and canals. This article from the Amusing Planet website presents photos of some of the more memorable bridges in the city.
Hamburg Blue Port - Köhlbrandbrücke
Hamburg Blue Port - Köhlbrandbrücke.  Flickr photo by daspaddy.

A couple other resources relevant to the Anacostia River include some reports done by various technical advisory panels of the Urban Land Institute:

-- Anacostia River Waterfront, 2004
-- Anacostia Gateway, 2012

Banpo Bridge [Seoul, Korea]
Fountain Bridge, Seoul.  Flickr photo by Danny Kim.

Python Bridge
Amsterdam's Python Bridge is a pedestrian bridge.  Flickr photo by Roel Prikken.

Bay Bridge at San Fran
San Francisco's Bay Bridge at night.  Flickr photo by Jack Chaiyakhom.

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