Week two of the teen design charette for Washington DC’s 11th Street recreational bridge was a flurry of activity. The students learned the history of the project from representatives of the Department of Transportation who explained that the bridge is at the end of its useful lifespan. Rather than demolishing the entire structure, the city saw an opportunity to salvage the existing concrete piers and explore the possibility of installing a new span across the Anacostia River. This new park would no longer carry 18 wheelers, instead it would support demonstration gardens, exercise facilities, and outdoor performance spaces.
The city hopes to achieve four key objectives through building the new recreation bridge: improve community health, promote the environmental quality of the Anacostia River, stitch together the adjoining neighborhoods that have long been divided by the river, and use the bridge as an anchor for economic development. Over a two week workshop in July, the students’ task was to create programming for the bridge. The results are imaginative and inspirational.
Sometimes, you need to hear what you already know. A nightcap on the Open House events last Thursday, which was the next to final lecture of the spring semester, a conversation between Paul Goldberger and Frank Gehry didn’t bring to the forefront any new insights on illustrious Gehry’s career or the trajectory of the profession. Yet the themes that arose in their casual chatter–insecurity, intuition, marginalization, and the need for humanity in architecture–provided a refreshing perspective in midst of the mayhem as final reviews are descending on us at the Yale School of Architecture.