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The Four Designs for the 11th Street Bridge Park

by UrbanTurf Staff

On Thursday, the renderings and descriptions were released that the final four teams have put together for the highly-anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park.

Plans have been in the works for over a year to turn three concrete piers into one elevated park connecting Anacostia and Navy Yard. The goal of the project is to create a connecting design with an appeal similar to that of the Providence River Bridge park in Rhode Island.

A total of 41 design proposals came in for the park, and a committee narrowed those down to six back in April. In May, those six were narrowed down to a final four. Below are the designs from each team. UrbanTurf will descriptions of the designs later in the day.


Bridge Park — Balmori Associates/Cooper, Robertson & Partners/Guy Nordenson Associates

The proposal from Balmori Associates and Cooper Robertson consists of three concepts:

  • The Thread, which is the idea that the bridge will enter Ward 6 and Ward 8 and connect Martin Luther King Avenue in Anacostia with 8th Street on Capitol Hill.
  • The Walk, which is described as follows: “The Walk” that so many Washingtonians will take across the Anacostia River is confident, strong, and true. These traits are represented in a series of graceful arches that take their strides with a side-to-side swagger. The structure allows for the design of a suspended deck giving freedom to the overall shape, program, and topography of Bridge Park and permits the deck edge to be varied, thin, and elegant.
  • The Clasp, which is located at the center of the bridge and will be an events space.

Anacostia Crossing — OLIN/OMA/Arup

The team of OLIN, OMA and Arup has created “a series of outdoor programmed spaces and active zones that will provide an engaging place hovering above, yet anchored in, the Anacostia River.”

Among those programmed spaces are an amphitheater, an environmental education center, a sculpture garden and a boat launch.


The Crossing — Stoss Landscape Urbanism/Howeler + Yoon Architecture/Robert Silman Associates

The Crossing consists of walkways and park spaces across the river with space for at least one structure that would serve as an environmental education center.

Here is how the team of Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Howeler and Yoon describes “The Crossing”:

Our proposal for the 11th Street Bridge Park puts in place a new crossing, one that establishes new connections across and to the Anacostia River and to the burgeoning and socially/culturally rich neighborhoods along its banks.


Anacostia Landing — Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) /NEXT Architects/Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Anacostia Landing would be a 25-acre park with four distinct recreation zones, the centerpiece of which would be the River Balcony:

The River Balcony stands as a singular element, seemingly floating in space and attached to the 11th Street Bridge by three narrow points of connection. Perched 30 feet above the river, the balcony contains a children’s play garden, a skim pool, a stepped amphitheater, and a three-story community and education center.



The winning team among the four finalists will be announced in October. Over the next month, the public will be invited to review the designs and share feedback. Those that view the designs can take a short survey that will be shared with the Competition Jury as they select the final winning design. The four design concepts will be exhibited at the following venues across the city:

On view from September 14 – October 11, 2014 — THEARC Gallery – 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, Washington, DC

On view from September 24 – October 11, 2014 at: Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum – 1901 Fort Place SE, Washington, DC and District Architecture Center – 421 7th Street NW, Washington, DC

See other articles related to: 11th street bridge park, 11th street

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the_four_designs_for_11th_street_bridge_park/8955

2 Comments

  1. skidrowedc@gmail.com said at 12:51 pm on Monday September 15, 2014:

    To my eye, the Balmori/Cooper-Robertson scheme vanquishes the rest.  This scheme seems to understand that the principal issue isn’t programming, it’s IMAGE, and it provides by far the most memorable image. In the rendering, they show people taking cellphone photos of the bridge—and it’s completely plausible! 

    The image is visually arresting, but open to multiple interpretations.  The team calls it the “Thread” which connects the communities on either side. Fair enough, but I see an abstracted roller-coaster, suggesting something fun (clearly not suggesting another memorial or monument), which is appealing.  I also see an abstraction of a statistical graph—not inappropriate for wonky DC.  (In this interpretation, I could imagine it appearing in a political cartoon.)  It also evokes the shapes and movement of oars.  I don’t know if there’s an interpretation for everyone, but the breadth of potential is positive.  If built, this might well become the non-federal image of DC.

    The two biggest challenges (money aside) are that this bridge is isolated and fairly long.  With the Navy Yard on one side and Anacostia Park/I-295/railroad tracks on the other, it isn’t adjacent to any populated areas. It’s close enough to Anacostia and Capitol Hill that some residents would make the trek, but for the most part, it must draw people from afar—which means it must provide a reason for them to come.  Programming will play a role, but what’s more important is an image that compels one to check it out—and then to return time after time to re-experience.

    In a park like this (think High Line in NYC, Promenade Plantier in Paris, or the Providence River Park in RI) the primary attraction is the experience of moving though the park—maybe on your way from Point A to Point B, maybe idling here and there, maybe occasionally doing a picnic or a study session, but mostly moving through.  Programming (outdoor movies, concerts, etc.) is secondary.

    The length of the bridge is challenging because it almost can’t be filled with programmed spaces.  Notably, the Balmori scheme is the smallest in terms of square footage of new bridge deck, and the basic scheme would work with an even smaller amount of deck. That’s not only realistic in that it would cost less, it’s also realistic in that it’s a fill-able amount of space.  In contrast, the Olin/OMA scheme creates a huge amount of new spaces, far more than could possibly fill up.  (And if you do, where are those folks coming from?  This isn’t near parking or Metro.) 

    The Balmori scheme could separate itself more from the interstate bridge, and, although I like the Anacostia Park approach, the Navy Yard side is too abrupt.  But these are quibbles.  We have a winner!

  1. eastbankdc said at 12:19 pm on Wednesday September 17, 2014:

    I am excited to see so much coverage of the 11th Bridge Park project and the design competition.

    For those unfamiliar with east of the river neighborhoods or Anacostia Park (including perhaps the previous commenter), I think it is important to note that many residents live on the east side of the 11th Street Bridge (in historic Anacostia and adjacent neighborhoods) and there is significant development in historic Anacostia including the Anacostia Playhouse, the Anacostia Arts Center, HonFleur Gallery, and more. On weekends especially Anacostia Park is buzzing with activity. It is where I jog on weekdays and where many others bike, walk, fish, and picnic. The fields are full of soccer and softball league teams. It is by no means a dead zone that some make it out to be.

    Come for a visit—it’s beautiful, people are the friendliest in DC, and it’s an oasis from the pace of the rest of the city.

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