Bridges often serve as a marker of civic identity and social will. Images of the Golden Gate and George Washington bridges circulate on stamps, postcards and in travel guides, figuring prominently in our collective consciousness.
Despite their importance and ubiquity in the built environment, however, architects’ relationship to bridges is most often relegated to land-based pylons and/or ornamental details. In a word; bridges, with few exceptions, exist squarely in the domain of engineers. This strict disciplinary delineation has led most often to the bridge-as-engineering-marvel, functioning as visual spectacle and means to an end. But what if bridges could be an end in-and-of themselves? What if a bridge is the destination? In this studio, students reimagined the Newburgh-Beacon bridge in Orange County, New York. The bridge links two cities where despite their proximity, there exists a significant wealth, health and safety gap. Additional nodes within the vicinity include the Hudson Highlands State Park, West Point Military Academy, Stewart International Airport, the Orange County Correctional Facility Stormking Art Center, and, of course, the richly biodiverse Hudson River itself. As a habitable bridge, students designed projects that act as a both thruway for pedestrians and vehicles as well as a destination for indoor/outdoor recreation.
“IT’S A SMALL WORLD: THEATRICAL LANDSCAPES BRIDGING COMMUNITIES”
This project challenges the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge's current position as a vessel exclusively for transportation by transforming the river's span into a shared urban hub for cultural projection and recreational gathering. The bridge's deck becomes a threadlike datum that sequences a series of urban nodes populated with green space, performance venues, and various community-focused programs. A careful consideration of sight lines and peripheral framing curates a theatrical presentation of both architecture and scenery as the user travels the length of the site.