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How’s this for a study in contrasts: A day after a debris-filled public art installation in a vacant Anacostia storefront angered neighbors and inspired Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry to pledge that he’d be “getting to the bottom of it,” four striking finalist designs were released today for the long-anticipated 11th Street Bridge Park project.
There are no beat-up tires, skeletons, or old car seats to be found among the park designs, as there are at the 5×5 Project installation on Good Hope Road, just a few blocks away from the bridge. Instead, the future park, on the old 11th Street Bridge that’s being replaced for vehicular traffic by a parallel one, could soon feature an amphitheater, peaks and valleys modeled on Frederick Douglass‘ old walking route, or a greenhouse.
The Anacostia River has long served as symbolic divide between the impoverished neighborhoods to the east and the wealthier ones to the west. Understandably, residents in the former area are resistant to proposals that serve to highlight the area’s economic struggles at a time when they’re working to reduce blight and bring retailers and residents to the neighborhoods. Exhibit A was an art project that would have installed a sunken gas station in the river; it was scrapped in July amid protests from the community. The 5×5 installation drew similar ire.
The 11th Street Bridge Park is different. As a statement of bridging the divide between the city’s halves, it can help enhance the reputation of east-of-the-river neighborhoods. But practically, it can serve as a draw to a part of the city that doesn’t currently have much in the way of venues that attract visitors.
The city hopes to select a design in October. That doesn’t mean it’ll be a done deal, though. The project, funded by the D.C. government and a nonprofit entity called Building Bridges Across the River, is expected to cost $40 million, between the construction and operation. According to the Washington Post, the city will cover just $14.5 million of the $25 million construction cost.
Still, the designs are good eye candy. And to neighbors who are getting tired of eyesores, that alone is a welcome change of pace.
Here they are:
Bridge Park (also shown above), by Balmori Associates/Cooper, Robertson & Partners
A wavy overhead structure modeled on Douglass’ neighborhood strolls hangs over a meandering bridge with an event space.
Anacostia Crossing, by Olin/OMA
Paths that cross in an X shape meet at the bridge’s center, complemented by an amphitheater, a boat launch, a waterfall, and a sculpture garden.
The Crossing, by Stoss Landscape Urbanism/Höweler + Yoon Architecture
Focused on the concept of healthy living, this design memorializes old ferry crossings and connects to park space on the eastern side of the river.
Anacostia Landing, by Wallace Roberts & Todd/NEXT Architects/Magnusson Klemencic Associates
A “river balcony” platform is topped by a billowy canopy, alongside an amphitheater, community center, urban farm, and greenhouse.
Renderings from the architectural firms