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Ushibuka Bridge, Japan, by Renzo Piano Buiding Workshop I was talking with an architect friend about the troubled Columbia River Crossing project: the lack of an acceptable design, the lack of leadership, the millions and millions spent on the process without anything approaching a consensus. But this friend challenged my desire for a great bridge in an interesting way that has affected the way I see the process.

In an engineering sense, this friend argued, all that is needed is a flat bridge over the Columbia. A new Golden Gate esque suspension bridge? Not needed for this site. A tall statement making bridge? That just form without function, he argued.

In other words, then, are the transportation departments of Oregon and Washington correct in saying that the uninspiring, pancake flat Glen Jackson Bridge over Interstate 205 should be the template, the inspiration, the goal?

In my previous post about the CRC, I included pictures of striking bridges around the world by great architects, such as Sir Norman Foster Milau Viaduct in France and Santiago Calatrava Alamillo Bridge in huarache ireland   But these bridges, just like famous spans such as the Golden Gate Bridge, were tall in part because they needed to be. Golden Gate, for example, had to span Bay between two hillsides.

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Or then there are dramatically tall bridges in Portland like the Fremont and the St. Johns. The former rises in the air in part because of the higher ground from which it emanates. The latter responds with its taller structural form to the mountains and hillside on the west side. In other words, these designs responded to the challenges of their sites. They may be postcard worthy beautiful, but they also were formal responses to functional challenges.

Ushibuka Bridge, Japan, by Renzo Piano Building Workshop the conditions for the CRC are different. Because of the quaint Pearson airfield in Vancouver, this bridge cannot be tall. But the riverbanks on each side are relatively flat ground, so that also means the topography may not call for a taller bridge.

What if, instead of clamoring for height and postcard quality, the design community instead accepted the need for a flat bridge but still insisted that this be more than a flat highway over the water? if we embrace the potential of the flat bridge?

In so doing, the design community would gain credibility with those accusing them of unrealistic expectations for a postcard. After all, it doesn take a “designista” (as developer Dennis Wilde coined hardcore Portland design proponents) to see that “postcard” and “gateway” are terms that don carry any real weight. They are expressions of what a design lover thinks should happen: the end result. But design isn about affixing beautiful sculptures to the landscape. The thing has to work well, and within its set of conditions.

If the design community abandons the perceived need for height and scale for the bridge, the social capital could then be applied to what is still desperately needed: a great designer.

But even to say “great designer” may be slightly misleading. This architect friend with whom I spoke argued that if Portland and Vancouver hire a famous architect with a relatively fixed style, even if it someone who has a very impressive sense of visual artistry, it may not be the right fit. What the CRC really needs, perhaps, is a designer as leader and editor.

The CRC process has so far been guided by giant groups stocked with representatives of different government and private sector concerns. That a necessary step in order to cull the concerns, needs and expertise of the many stakeholders in a new bridge. But until there is some kind of singular voice that does something with those opinions, all the ideas remain equal and no quality consensus is reached. It’s not that democracy is a mob, but the ideas are equal to each other until someone brings it all together together. This is where the designer as leader comes in: the person who takes all the opinions and brings them together in one design not a Homer Simpson car that is far less than the sum of its parts, but a greater unified whole. A complex design whose beauty is rooted in making the complex seem simple.

It not to say this designer couldn be a “starchitect” like Foster, Calatrava or Zaha Hadid. But given the complexities of the process and the many, many people involved, the CRC needs not just a designer sculptor but one who accepts that is no model yet for this bridge. “Right now designers have a preconceived conclusion as much as the engineers,” my friend (who chose to remain anonymous) argued. “That’s not how design works in my book.”

In other words, we need to find a way to unite those concerned with a great design, those concerned with moving traffic, and those concerned with environmental issues. We need a designer leading this ship who listens to the broad set of conditions and formulates that into a design one that embodies the needs of the site (such as physical flatness for the bridge) but also refuses to build something banal and ugly like the Glenn Jackson. As great architects like Renzo Piano have demonstrated, a flat bridge can still be gorgeous.

At this point, there won be a design competition for the CRC. There won be a new Golden Gate that rises over the Columbia. Even so, by installing a designer as the manager of this process, we can still build a bridge that represents the best of us in its design, a bridge that is as beautiful as it is huarache ireland  And it not to say a bridge keeping a low profile isn a good design. The one great thing about traveling over the Glenn Jackson Bridge on I 205 is the visceral, experiential sense one gets of the river. There are few obstructions to one view crossing the Jackson, leaving the Columbia itself, and the snow capped mountains in the distance, as the postcard.

Portland Aerial Tram, photo by Brian Libby it happens, when architect Sarah Graham and her firm, AGPS Architecture, were being considered for the Portland Aerial Tram commission, she said the same thing: “You don need a postcard. Mt. Hood is your postcard.” But Graham also fought tooth and nail to preserve the integrity of her tram design, to not let it just be utilitarian, banal and ugly. The tram doesn try to be a beautiful design, per se. But it is a beautiful design. The key? Whether it was Reed Kroloff leading the design competition, or Graham herself, we had the right people in place to do the job a job that called for design greatness, but also design leadership.

Fine Observation B , I believe we should think outside the box. We are in a special place , a place that values the outdoors and the environment.

A Park Roofed bridge is low rise AND gives us all a unique place to enjoy the Mighty Columbia.

Please find the latest Blog Coverage below of my Artworks

The vast grass land of the park

will absorb all the rain that drives stormwater pollution ,  nike huarache ireland and in doing so greatly reduces the cost of treatment. This savings can largely pay for the park. The working class neighborhoods on both sides of the river need more open space,

and we gain a major unique green tourist attraction.

I believe you have made great points in your argument for a flat bridge.

I lived in Portland my whole life and have crossed the current bridge countless times.

I believe this design has great potential to be beautiful without being “cluttered”. I know that this bridge needs to do lots of things, not just be a bridge over the Columbia from Oregon to Washington for vehicle traffic but also for MAX line, bikers pedestrians. nike prestos ireland  The designer on this project should be exploring all possibilities for this design to communicate with its given landscape, needs, others opinions of course sustainability as well. A designer on a project of this scale should cover all of their bases before coming to any one conclusion.

Has any one thought about maybe a designer contest where designers, architects engineers can submit their designs to a jury per se. Like Mya lynn Vietnam memorial?

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The jury wouldn even have to pick one design but then their are so many possibilities right in front of you. With those designs on hand taking ideas/concepts from the submissions and create one cohesive design that pleases all sides of the argument raised.

This bridge will not only become a landmark for Washington Oregon but a beautiful piece of art that not only includes functionality but represents this great NorthWest that we all inhabit.

That may be good and all, to design a beautiful flat bridge, but due to ODOT and FHA mandates for highway design we end up with a flat bridge AND a completely devastated Hayden Island, nike prestos ireland  a massive pile of spaghetti over Vancouver, and the non aesthetics of exhaust spewing gridlock moved (not relieved) closer into North Portland and the I 5/405 loop. Ask your architect friends how they feel about the REAL architectural splendor this project will bring outside of the bridge footprint. Look at the artist renderings again focusing on the approach interchanges and you understand that there is no architect on the planet who could make those ramps and passes better considering mandated designs for speed, curves, clearance, and slope.

Your architect friends are architects and are completely blind. nike prestos ireland  No disrespect, but they are only concerned with of the bridge, not the environmental, human habitat, sociological, financial, and political tragedy that is proposed. Everyone who pushes to have this bridge built should be mandated to live next to it and its interchanges, and see if they change their tune.

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