Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Trend Toward Landscaped Pedestrian Bridges

Proposed London Garden Bridge to be completed in 2018
The Telegraph

The Telegraph of London reported in May that the design for the controversial London Garden Bridge which will span the Thames River from the Inner Temple to the cultural centre of the Southbank will contain five different landscape zones.  The bridge, due to open in 2018, was designed by Thomas Heatherwick with the garden designed by Dan Pearson.
Artist Rendition of the London Garden Bridge
The Telegraph
Similarly,The Dirt, the publication of the American Society of Landscape Architects, reported in an article by Jared Green that the landscape architecture firm OLIN and architecture firm OMA were announced as the winners of a national design competition to create a 900-foot-long bridge park spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.
                        
11th Street Bridge Park / Images by OLIN and OMA

Also of note, Taylor Cullity Lethlean reported in 2014 on The Landscape Architects Network that "the Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge in Australia is proving that a bridge can also be a destination. Sweeping gracefully from the Dunstan Playhouse and Adelaide Oval across the Torrens River to the city, the bridge is an elegant solution for connecting Adelaide’s arc of waterfront parkland. Completed in March 2014, the $40 million bridge takes the first step toward bringing life back to the unique and picturesque riverbank precinct."

Photo Credit: Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge, by Taylor Cullity Lethlean
Photo Credit: Adelaide Riverbank Pedestrian Bridge, by Taylor Cullity Lethlean

New York City has taken the big step of restoring The High Bridge crossing the Harlem River. Look at it in the picture below in comparison to the other landscaped pedestrian bridges.


copyright Roy Levit 2015


Is this the pedestrian bridge you want?

The High Bridge in New York City is under the administration of the Parks & Recreation Department of NYC.  So, why isn't it landscaped at all like other Parks and Recreation facilities in the City?  Even The High Line in downtown Manhattan, which is also an elevated structure has become very popular as a landscaped pedestrian park.  It is a destination. Visitors come from all over the world to see it and spend some time there absorbing the naturalistic elements provided by the space. 
High Line, New York


Visitors coming to The High Bridge will walk over it to the other side, they will stop for a few moments while on the bridge and take a look at the commanding vista of the Harlem River Valley, the New York Skyline, or even the panoramic view of Highbridge Park, but they do not find it a place to stay for a while.  There is no shade of a tree to protect them from the mid day summer sun beating down on them.  The benches are totally without a context to make the pedestrian feel invited to sit down. The bridge itself other than its own architectural grace and history is sterile.

Adding landscape elements such as trees, shrubs and other plant material in containers placed upon the deck of the bridge would not do a disservice to its history or detract from its architecture.  Rather, they would accentuate what the bridge was originally intended for: bringing the much needed sustenance of water to a city that needs it for both its citizenry and vegetation to live and grow.  Most commercial public spaces include landscaping as part of the design to bring warmth to the setting.

Think of what The High Bridge could be.  Please express your desire for The High Bridge to be truly brought into the Park system of New York with the addition of appropriate landscaping.  As we commented in our post on mayor de Blassio's lack of interest in the parks on July 16, this would be a great way for him to start showing that he really cares about the parks and the residents of the city by providing quality space for recreational activities outdoors.



16 comments:

  1. Bravo! A bold new idea. Let's get moving on this. I'm writing my councilman. Everyone else should too.

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    1. Yes, let's have NYC be the landscaped bridge destination of the world.

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  2. Parks & Rec was out to lunch on this one. Certainly they can scratch up the few bucks needed to pull this off.
    Or, maybe some nice corporation would like to get the credit for donating the funds to do it.

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  3. Yes, and what about putting in some restrooms, if they put in trees and bushes even the dogs will have a place to go, but not for us people.

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  5. What kind of trees should they plant?

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  6. I just wanted to say how many great ideas for the improvement of the Highbridge Park area I have read on this blog. Thanks for the contributions.

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  7. This bridge has so much potential draw and the city just muddles along. By the time they decide to do what is necessary the bridge will be falling apart again and will have to be reconstructed, but it will cost $200 million next time.

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  8. Maybe, if they put in the landscaping they will have the water for a drinking fountain. Didn't I read that there was a fountain at one time at the High Bridge?

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  9. Wouldn't it be great if the High Bridge were landscaped anywhere near what the High Line is landscaped like.

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  10. Hey, Commissioner Silver, Do you hear us. This is one terrific idea. What do you say about this?

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    1. I took the liberty of contacting Commissioner Silver about this issue and asked him to comment on it. Let's see if he responds.

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  11. You should check out the pedestrian bridge we designed under construction now in Amsterdam, NY. Opening spring 2016! Originally called the Park Over the River. Trees and planters abound.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSsOr9gTRy4
    http://www.saratogaassociates.com/amsterdam-pedestrian-bridge/

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