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RI Bridge Connects Riverfront Parks

Friday, June 26, 2020

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A decade after the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation headed a design competition, reports are again admiring the design of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge in Rhode Island.

At the time, the competition called for a structure to link two new parks, created as part of the state’s Iway project, which involved the removal and relocation of an intersection between two highway interstates. (The intersection was officially relocated in 2013.)

Completed last year, the curved and stepped wood-covered pedestrian bridge was designed by architecture firm Inform Studio (Northville, Michigan) and United Kingdom-based BuroHappold Engineering, with the help of contractors Daniel O'Connell's Sons (Holyoke, Massachusetts) and SITU Fabrication (Brooklyn).

About the Infrastructure

Located in the city’s new Innovation and Design District—developed by Wexford Science and Technology—the 394-foot-long bridge connects a 4.5-acre green space with Providence’s riverfront.

"As a part of the Waterfront Park Master Plan, the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge had a significant responsibility to unify the East and West Park spaces into an integrated public environment synthesizing both urban and natural conditions," said Inform Studio.

JKizzieHumanities, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A decade after the City of Providence and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation headed a design competition, reports are again admiring the design of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge in Rhode Island.

Made up a prefabricated design, the pedestrian bridge was built using a curvaceous steel superstructure which was later clad using modular panels of Wana wood, also known as Red Louro. Inform Studio reported that the design decision was not only beneficial for long-term maintenance and easy access to the steel structure, but also aided in accelerating the project’s production schedule and reduced material waste and costs.

According to reports, the South American hardwood was specifically chosen for its durability and resistance to rot, in addition to its use in boat building, evoking Providence's maritime past. Comprised of 250 demountable panels crafted by SITU Fabrication, the Wana wood wraps around both sides of the bridge’s exterior, like a curved shell, and are also used on the bridge’s benches and floor.

Inform Studio stated to reporters that the wood has “old-world character and warmth,” continuing that, "With modern innovations, this exceptionally versatile material was used to capture formal characteristics reminiscent of historical ships while simultaneously transitioning into an innovative contemporary solution.”

Comprised of a stepped form, featuring plant life and wide steps that double as seating, the bridge creates a lower level closer to the water. On the east side, a pathway splits in directions towards James Street and Transit Street. The design also incorporates five existing piers along the Providence River.

BuroHappold’s Cities Team has previously estimated that 14% of the city’s population lives within one mile of the new bridge, adding that approximately 60,000 people within the same area.

The Architect’s Newspaper reported earlier this year that, “The accessibility of the location is a draw in its own right, but a space designated for pedestrian use in this area has its own symbolic importance: in the transition from major highway to a public walkway, what was once a quick route from one city to another has become a destination that Providence residents can enjoy on their own terms.”


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Completed projects; Design; Design build; Hardwood; NA; North America; Prefabrication; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Structural steel

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