Greater City Providence

Providence River Pedestrian Bridge Design Finalists

Last night at City Hall the design finalists for the new Providence River Pedestrian Bridge were unveiled. The designs are on display for public comment at City Hall. They are also online at Flickr (how web2.0 of the city, I like!). Let’s run them down here, but also be sure to visit the links for each design as I am not hyperlinking all that is available to read over on Flickr (and there is a lot!).

WaveNet Bridge

Design Team 1



More renderings and detailed information here.

Pedestrian Bridge

Design Team 2



More renderings and detailed information here.

Three Pier Bridge

Design Team 3



More renderings and detailed information here.

The Uncovered Bridge

Design Team 4



More renderings and detailed information here.

Team 5

Design Team 5



More renderings and detailed information here.

Team 6

Design Team 6



More renderings and detailed information here.

Providence River Pedestrian Bridge

Design Team 7



More renderings and detailed information here.

Design Team 8



More renderings and detailed information here.

Team 9

Design Team 9



More renderings and detailed information here.

Team 10

Design Team 10


More renderings and detailed information here.


Design Team 11



More renderings and detailed information here.

A lot to take in huh? Be sure to visit the links for the design narrative and more renderings, and also leave comments on Flickr, the city will be reading comments there and the design committee will take them into account when choosing a winner.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • My take, which I’ll post on Flickr in a bit:

    1 — looks interesting from the air, but likely to seem like a wasteland to the pedestrian

    2 — nice views, and I like the mini-amphitheatre. Plastering up the “Creative Capital” slogan (which, as slogans go, I like) is importunate and embarrassing.

    3 — unexciting

    4 — nice curves, and the greenery is excellent

    5 — I like the curves, the seating, the grass out in the water, but I’m left a bit cold. Too much like a Nike commercial.

    6 — seems well-thought, maybe a little bland

    7 — a bit too much green. This looks artificial, jarring to me.

    8 — uninspiring

    9 — even less inspiring

    10 — by far my favorite: multi-use, green, sensible, aesthetically pleasing

    11 — dull

  • 10 is nice but seems like it will run about twice the cost of even the most expensive of the others. I understand they could try to subsidize that cost with the cafe space but that seems kind of risky.

  • Also on number 4 I worry about the plantings as they will be an easy victim of poor maintanence. Keeping red oaks healthy in those little planters is not a job I necessarily trust the parks department to have the time to do. I like the idea of using wood, though.

  • I like #10 the best, it looks to me like a nice bookend for Waterplace. Some of the more modernist entries look interesting but seem to me like cases of aesthetics over placemaking.

    I find #3 intriguing and would probably make that my second choice. I like the sailboat motif on #8 but the wide shot looks like a highway. #9 and #11 are especially bland.

    And I agree with Jesse that the “Creative Capital!” (with exclamation point!) in #2 is pretty amateurish.

  • Andrew: I agree on 6 and the High Line, I also like that they did a winter rendering.

    I haven’t looked closely enough, but 10 definitely leaps out at me. I agree Bil, something very Waterplace about it, though with more contemporary finishes it looks like.

  • Only #1, #6, #11, #8, #9 have any shot of being approved. My bet is on #8, which fits RI’s ocean theme. #9 has a similar theme, but not as extravagant, so it may be cheaper. I personally like #6 a lot, because of the approaching park space and wide paths. Looks efficient yet attractive.

    The others are way too expensive or unrealistic due to upkeep costs.

    #2 Looks like a lot of wasted space and seems unnecessarily convoluted. Plus the “Creative Capital” wall or whatever they put there would become a graffiti magnet within 5 minutes after dusk the date of the dedication.

    #3 The roofs are not necessary and would add to the cost.

    #4 Trees on bridges? Not a good idea….

    #5 Is more like a seating area than a pedestrian/bike bridge. Why dedicate so much space to be used only during “special events” a few times a year? Plus it will be a vagrant/teen/graffiti artist hangout most of the time.

    #7 Plain, and the trees on the pier abutments look more like weeds. Trees on bridges doesn’t mesh with Providence Parks Department shoddy record of maintenance.

    #10 is very outlandish and seems expensive. A cafe under a pedestrian bridge? Such a business would probably only exist if it were city-run or the rent was free. This would off-set the very slow sales and periodic armed robberies that would dampen revenue.

  • I’ll add my two cents:

    1) Isn’t ugly, but I don’t know how effective it would be from a functional standpoint. The little benches and planters seem erratically placed which leads me to believe that they’d just be a waste of space. At least the path in the middle is pretty direct.

    2) Seems really wasteful. I don’t get it. What’s up with the dead end or the useless plaza space. A few paths seem to lead to nowhere.

    3) I like this one. Simple, elegant and functional.

    4) I’m curious about the micro climate here. I notice that on the bridge the leaves are in full, autumn colors while on either side, the leaves are still peak summer colors. I’m wondering if this bridge somehow combats global warming (/sarcasm)? I don’t care for the design though. It just doesn’t do anything for me and seems relatively uninspired.

    5) I like 5. A lot. I like the separation of the bike and walking areas and I like the small meeting/seating space. It’s functional, fluid and effective. It’s also pretty attractive.

    6) Eh. Not terrible (though the rendering sucks). But nothing about it jumps out at me as “great.”

    7) Not sure what I’m looking at but I am sure I don’t care for it. Seems sort of “blah.” Looks like leftover highway segments to me.

    8) I like 8. It’s beautiful and functional. It’s a nice design.

    9) Is sort of bland. I’m sure it’s functional, but it doesn’t scream “landmark” to me. That’s not always a bad thing. I’ll take function over flash most of the time, but I prefer some of the other designs over this one.

    10) My favorite. I like that it’s functional, attractive and serves a number of purposes well. I think it looks like it belongs (not far off from it’s Riverwalk/Water Place cousin). The cafe makes me nervous. I feel like it’s going to be tough to keep operational OR it’ll become another Dunkin Donuts. Having an abandoned space there would really detract from the overall design.

  • The designs seem to fall into two categories; the bridge as a way to get from point A to point B and the bridge as a destination in its own right that happens to span the river.

    The “point A to point b” designs tend to be a little bland because they are a product of their function. That being said, I like the simplicity of 9 and the fact that it blends into the city fabric created by the other bridges across the river. It does no harm. Not inspiring but then its not trying to be.

    The destination bridges are clearly meant to be more than what they are. Some in my opinion are trying too hard. I don’t think there needs to be a statement.

    I really don’t think Providence needs yet another under used ampitheater. I thought the park on the west end was also supposed to have one and then there is the one at Waterplace. So I am not crazy about the tiered seating designs.

    The canopy designs will fight the skyline and don’t provide much cover given the way the wind blows up and down the river. Maybe some sun shade in the summer. They are “look at me” designs.

    I like the landscaped options but trees are just not going to work and planting the piers is not practical. Not dissing the parks department but maintainance is going to be an issue and has to be taken into account.

    I am really not a fan of 10. I think it is trying to do too much. Its added things way beyond the program that are just not going to happen. What the heck is an “interpretive center”?

    I like 6. It seems to know what it is in terms of getting people across the river (it’s main purpose) but provides the opportunity for meandering and taking a slow walk or just hanging around. I like that it allows for additional uses when needed yet won’t seem empty when they are not there. It seems to be realistic with the landscape design and I like the way it blends in with the parks proposed at each end. It’s not flashy but i don’t think it has to be.

  • “Only #1, #6, #11, #8, #9 have any shot of being approved.”

    Miguel, not only have you poisoned the well, I think you’ve wildly misstated the case. I’ve attended public waterfront planning meetings held by the City, and they made a considerable effort to document the importance of using cafes and other attractions to energize parks. There’s every reason to believe that the City does not find this “unrealistic” or “expensive” and will give entries like 10 due consideration.

  • Dan, I like your distinction between bridge as transportation and bridge as destination. Personally, if it’s just transportation, I don’t see the point: pedestrians can walk a couple of blocks in either direction and find other options. I think the case for downtown as a destination is still being made and still needs to be strengthened: the comment I still get from out-of-town guests is that they’re amazed at the lack of people on the streets. A destination bridge would be part of that.

    Is the cafe a risk, and would it be awful if badly implemented? Absolutely, but I think at least some of that risk is offset by the possibility of an ongoing revenue stream. Just imagine if the City worked carefully to attract a well-established business (Pastiche, for example, which I wager people would still patronize even in the worst parts of town) that would be drawn to the showplace location! You’d have nearly round-the-clock activation of two parks and a bridge, and the bridge-for-transportation’s-sake model doesn’t provide that.

  • Whew, unlike the 195 land park proposals, which I generally all found to be underwhelming (let’s make a marshland component!), we have a number of meaty and appealing options here.

    I actually have very little to add to the excellent above comments except my general impressions:

    – I favor the idea of “bridge as destination” rather than “bridge as mere connector.”
    – I agree #10 is my favorite. I think a well-done cafe there could become a destination itself with the kind of skyline views it’ll have (we have almost no eatery in the city with any skyline views)… If that doesn’t work, then a kayak rental would be great too…
    – I like almost any proposal that uses the river, thus I’m a fan of #6 as well. #3 would be my third favorite. #1 looks nice, but seem bland from a pedestrian standpoint.
    – I think surface area concerns about graffiti and vandalism are VERY real and need to be taken into account.
    – Please, no trees or landscaping… Let’s let a bridge be a bridge.
    – I too thought the park had an ampitheater? If so, there’s absolutely no reason for one here…

    Overall, a very inspirational effort and think we’d be well served by almost any of the proposals.

  • I just did a quick read-through of all the docs and drawings for #10 over on Flickr, and I really do like it.

    It really is reminiscent of Waterplace, which I suppose could be a bad thing, but I do like the way it ties the whole river together by referencing the far end. The timber decking brings in a texture that is lacking up river in the Basin.

    I like the lower level sections on the western bank. They refer to Waterplace, but also provide a weather break on the wind tunnel that is the Providence River. The south facing sections will probably have few pleasant winter days, but the cafe seating on the north side should be relatively protected from the wind.

    The cafe I think could (should) be phased in. Start by building the bridge so the cafe can be added (structurally, add water and electric runs…), but leave it open at first. Test out some cart vendors, and if/when they take hold, look toward finishing the cafe space as designed. This could potentially save some money on construction up front, and will ensure that we don’t have a vacant storefront on the bridge should the cafe concept fail. I also think we need to see some development of the 195 land on the Jewelry District side of the river to create a customer base for a bridge cafe, another reason to not build it straight-away.

    I think what they are showing as an “interpretive center” on the west bank should actually be a restaurant space, with perhaps some meeting rooms overlooking the river. I agree with Dan’s assessment of, “what the heck is an ‘interpretive center?'” I think it is some fancy shcmancy thing designers like to add in to look inclusive or something. A restaurant will actually work. The restaurant could conceivably run the cafe as a side business.

    I think the landscaping that extends out the piers could only work if it were wild. I think if that is just allowed to go to seed, plants will colonize, let that happen, don’t worry about maintenance beyond ensuring that roots don’t disturb the integrity of the piers.

    That blue edge along the walkway and out one of the piers is supposed to be an infinity water feature. I think that is a piece that could be lost. Maintenance on that would be an issue, and why do we need a water feature on a bridge over a river. Also, where would the water come from? The river is brackish and polluted…

    I like that they’ve given thought to where people are coming from and going to as they use the bridge:


    Some of these designs really favor a single traffic flow too much and will force people to move out of their way to access the bridge if that is not where they are coming from/going to.

  • That’s a great summary, Jef. I can’t disagree with anything. #10 was one of the few designs that included the contextual plan at an urban scale (I may be mistaken), which should go a long way in demonstrating the designer’s commitment to creating a bridge that isn’t just a symbol, isn’t just a destination, isn’t just an over-pass, but is a viable and meaningful addition to the city.

  • First,these entries really showed up for the game. All are well themed,but a few plans are generic .TM#10 wows me.and gives us a district not just a bridge.

  • Best – 10 then 6 and 2
    Worst – 2 then 9 and 11

    10 has the best scale and variation with clarity. There’s as sense of intimacy that the others lack. People would feel comfortable alone or with a crowd on the bridge. I question how the viability of the cafe without several thousand residents or workers immediately nearby. Maybe the space could have multiple uses like a kayak rental with a café and/or juice bar or something else.

  • Also, 10 integrates the best with the park space on both sides of the river.

  • Bret, 2 is on my worst list because for me, it would feel isolating on the web of walkways. There’s too much uniformity other than the plaza on the South Water Street side. The walkways appear too narrow. It would seem like a place I’d want to get over as quickly as possible. From under the bridge the experience for anyone on a boat might seem similar to having a series of highway ramps overhead. A minor detail is the slogan, which is tacky. The design is of cold and abstract in a negative way. People may disagree with me, but that’s how I feel.

  • I like 10, 7 and 6.

    The designs I like all moot the question of what is park and what is bridge. I especially like the places to hang out at water level.

    7 deserves a closer look. Some of the pictures make it look like a highway but that is not how it will feel when you are actually on it. The delicate substance is not highway-like. Traffic will flow along a certain line, but there is space to linger off the path, some of it near the traffic, some at an isolated remove, some right at water level. I need to know more about the vegetation. If it is high maintenance, not good. If that greenery can flourish mostly on its own it will be charming.

    If the bridge itself is a good place to hang out, and all the space along the river can be tied together, the park on the west side does not need to be so big. There can be buildings closer to the river so more people can be around. It is not like crowds are spilling out of the area’s existing parks. Inviting yet compact park space that connects well with existing riverside space will suffice. The river provides openness. No need for bland lawns and plazas.

  • By far team #3 Three-pier Bridge out does the rest.
    It not only successful combines old architecture with new it is elegant. As an artist designer myself this is superb designing. Beautiful and yet functional. Provides areas of shade and walkways to rest and stop while others proceed on the straight path. There something to be said when someone is able to combine new with old and they have done it so well. To copy the old gives a fake sense of history.
    And it is plain old boring. This is magnificent and would be a shame if Providence does not pick it.

  • #6 and #10 are my favorites because they don’t just create a bridge, they extend the park. Everyone is saying how we need more parkspace and having the park over the river would be awesome.

    I like #10 the best because of the cafe built into it, creating a destination out of the bridge.

    The others are all just a bridge for the most part. Sure, they incorporate some nice designs, but they’re too bridgey. #3, while a nice design, doesn’t have that “destination” feel. Let’s not make it a bridge between 2 parks, let’s make a contiguous park across the river. #10 does that the best and #6 comes pretty close.

  • Unaffiliated, have no stake in any Team. Much in favor of Team 6, 7 and 10. Need not be anything complex. Should veer from SE to NW, as that’s how it will be used. Shouldn’t block views along river or draw attention to itself. Like directed LED low lighting run on solar power. Like islands of permanent greenery, shrubs or small trees, if low maintenance. Shouldn’t try to become a destination, not when there are already parks on either side of river. Better include a sculpture, as this development definitely falls under Percent for Art statute.

  • Back to Bret’s comment. I made a typo. For best, I meant 10 the 6 and 5 (not 2).

  • I really Think Bridge #8 and #9 are fantastic, as a designer and artist I can safely say these are the most exciting. They’re reminiscent of those fantastic bridges by Santiago Calatrava. Crossing these bridges would be exhilarating!!!!

  • Please don’t smear a swooping or meandering landform over the Providence River. In two years, after the fashion fades, you’ll wonder why you did that.
    Pick a scheme that doesn’t block the continuity of the river, the visual connection to the bay. #3 has refinement and intensity.

  • I would like to remind you all above that the first important criteria for the competition is the COST TO BE 2 to 4M.
    Knowing this now, you can review your comments.

  • I would like to remind you all above that the most important criteria for the bridge competition is the COST UNDER 4 MILLION.
    Knowing this now, you would like to review your comments which are very interesting though.

  • I applaud all the design submitted though it seems that we are venturing towards what we strove to change about the city. The reason for moving the interstate was to open up the city and begin to include the jewelery district in a more fundamental way. A lot of the proposals are troubling to me because they either want to “pave” the river again as it once was or place a tall obstruction in the middle of the river again. I think we should look to have something simple elegant and beautiful, there is no need for “bridge as destination” when there is a park on either side, why cant we just have bridge as bridge. Do we really want to undo all the positive momentum we made by placing a large tall obstruction in the middle of the river. While some of the designs submitted respect this idea in some capacity, I feel all of them became overly excited with the possibilities of the site and neglected to keep in mind what it means to remove an obstruction from the river. For example, how amazing is it to drive down Wickendon Street and not have to pass underneath a dank, dark overpass.

    What if we just built a beautiful simple bridge, let the parks be parks and allowed this artery that we have created or unclogged to develop to its full capacity as an amenity to our beautiful city.

    I fear we are recreating the problem that we worked so hard to change.

  • Robert, I think you’ve brought up a point that deserves consideration and debate: toning down the bridge itself in favor of highlighting the park spaces that it connects. True indeed, the parks on either side of the bridge would benefit from an amphitheater and some of the other amenities that the proposals include. However, I have to respectfully disagree with the notion (that a few people have mentioned) that we are returning to the “widest bridge in the world”. Rather than obstructing people from the river, I think that most of the proposals have potential to bring people even closer to it.
    Also, I’m no expert, but intuitively it seems like it would be easiest to maintain green space on the land on either side, rather than on a bridge. In that case, it would be nice to maximize the grass and greenery on the shore and allow the bridge to provide space for things like performances, busking, the cafe etc. that might require pavement. Just a thought.

  • I understand we are in tough economic times and that there is a need to stimulate the economy but we just removed this bridge, do we really want to place another obstruction here. These times will pass but the changes we make to this site will not necessarily evolve as quickly. The old highway is not even removed yet and we are already replacing it, and with a green patch and a starbucks? The one word that comes to mind is impetuous and I think that everyone here knows what I am talking about. It is necessary as architects and designers to fully understand the changes we make when proposing a project like this as well as to practice the simple virtue of patience. Have we all forgotten our years of schooling where we were taught to fully understand our site before proposing our interventions. This site is still in a state of flux, we haven’t even begun to understand the potential that it has to offer.

  • Under the new I-way bridge isn’t there a new amphitheater? There’s another at Waterplace Park and an impromptu amphitheater near the RISD Auditorium. Over programming the new pedestrian bridge may diminish the adjacent parks, as Robert points out. The Providence riverfront no longer has a dearth of park space. Other than on Waterfire nights or daytime festivals the new pedestrian bridge and adjacent parks could end being fairly empty most of the time.

    For the bridge to become a destination in itself and support proposed activities, the immediate population would have to increase on the order of thousands, perhaps 10s of thousands. The current I-way land-use plan designates the smallest buildings and lowest population closest to the two parks. This is exactly the location where the highest density should be located instead.

    For years the notion within the Dept. of Planning and Development has been that lower buildings should closer to the river, should be questioned. I believe that the premise was to avoid blocking views or neighboring upland buildings. If there’s a 7-story waterfront building and a 10-story building directly behind it, what view would the people in the 10-story building get, either a building façade or the roof mechanical of the lower waterfront building in front and maybe from the penthouse some river view.

    The riverfront has the greatest potential to handle tall buildings, which would increase the population and support the two parks and bridge. The distance between Dyer and South Water Streets where the bridge is to be located is over 1,100 feet, which is about the same distance as from the north side of the Waterplace Park basin to the Kennedy Plaza towers. How imposing does Bank of America or Sovereign Bank buildings look from the Waterplace basin or even from Union Station across the plaza? A 35-story building would have little effect across the river and could even enhance the skyline. This intensity of development would support the parks beyond special events.

    Whatever pedestrian bridge is selected, it should be an icon. It would be located on a part of the river has a completely different character and scale than Crawford Street and north. It will be one of three major bridges and its design should balance all three.

  • Amen to what Peter Brassard said about tall buildings and more people. That feeling of solitude is not what you want in an urban park.

    There is no amphitheater shortage. But there is a Biergarten shortage.

  • Madernass… I think we got your point from your 2 previous posts. I can only assume that since they were chosen by finalists, all of them will meet that budget.

  • I just posted my thoughts on Design Team 5 to the Flickr page:

    This is among my favorite designs, some concerns about it are:

    In reading through the materials, I understand that the paths are not to be exclusive bike vs. pedestrian, though the renderings indicate that the green path is a highspeed cycle track. I like the idea of a separate cycle track but have concerns about the safety of pedestrians mixed with highspeed cyclists.

    The bridge is oriented so that the passive sitting and standing is towards the city view, and I think that is appropriate, however, at times people will want to stand on the cycle track and contemplate the Point Street Bridge, Hurricane Barrier, and downriver views. I would like to see a small wayside at the center point of the bridge so that people can stand off the cycle track for this and not create conflict with through bike traffic.

    I cannot tell if this exists, but there should be a level area at either end of the bridge, where the approach ramps meet, for people to change from one to the other. For example, if one is coming from the Southeast, say from Wickenden Street, and heading to the Northwest, say Dorrance Street, they would enter the cycle track from the southeast, then exit the cycle track on the other bridge facing southward, when they intend to move northward. Allowing them to mount the bridge via the cycle track from the east then switch over to the other pathway once on the bridge, cross and exit in a northerly direction would be preferred. This would have to be accomplished without any steps to ADA and other considerations.

    I don’t see any indication from the renderings of how the underside of the bridge is treated on either bank. Do pathways continue along the very edge of the river under the bridge (like in Waterplace Park) or are pathways diverted away from the bridge with no passage under it? I would prefer to see passages under the bridge to allow people to stay close to the river, but care needs to taken with how that passage is handled. The dark, dank, closed-in feel of the passages in Waterplace should be avoided.

    And I hate to say it, but the marsh plantings in the river on the east bank concern me. The river is filled with detritus, and I’m seeing in my minds eye that grass area being a filter for capturing floating Dunkin Donuts cups and other debris with no one taking the lead on cleaning it. Open water would be preferable.

  • This is my thought. I don’t want a super highway even if it has grassy areas and trees. I want a bridge that is a bridge. One that I can easily walk on and easily push my mother in her wheelchair so we can get from one side to the other. Pushing her around a maze isn’t for me. I want it to be a straight path. I like to have a few areas for shade when I get tired so I can rest for a moment or to perhaps stop and enjoy the view, so mom can too. I don’t need fancy gimmicks or Christmas lights nor do I think that’s the way to pick a good bridge. Take away the amenities and then judge the bridges. Which one suits the purpose – which one will be a bridge for the future we all can be proud of the design?
    Which one will add to Providence and be something new and exciting. That is the bridge we should build .

  • there are a lot of great designs here, and it’d be exciting to get a number of them built. I am partial to 3, just seems like it won’t become a skate park, it looks comfortable to walk across, it isn’t striving to be SO different, seems like it would appeal to both the South Providence fisherman, and the College Hill aesthete and seems like it’d be economical to build (comparatively).

    And while I like my morning coffee, for me the cafe on 10 feels really odd, I just don’t see how a cafe survives here. Right now, does anyone go dine outside at the hot club, cafe nuovo, or waterplace cafe more than 3-4 months/year? Despite it’s otherwise handsome lines, the addition of the program seems a shameless ploy to capitalize on the RI affection for donut shops 😉

  • I perhaps overstate at 3-4 months/year….still at 6-7 months/year (May-October) that means the cafe is closed half the time, vulnerable to vandals, wind, weather, tides, etc.

  • Why would the cafe have to be closed in the winter? The city is open 12 months a year. The bridge will remain open. People will still have to get from Point A to Point B. A lot of traffic will be Brown people, and the academic year takes place largely during the winter.

    If we’re going to assume the streets need to be shut down because it is too cold, then we should just lock up the city and all move to Tampa.

  • I don”t see the canopy designs providing much in the way of shade or cover from the rain. The canopies all seem much too high to provide shade other than at high noon. Maybe that”s when people want it most but there are other hours of the day. And anyone who has been on the river knows that the rain rarely falls straight down.

    With regards to tall buildings along the river. I just got back from a conference in Ft. Lauderdale. There are sections along the beach front lined with newer taller buildings and sections with the old low rise architecture. Guess where the beach is in full shade first? I would hate to spend all the effort to build parks and pathways along the west side of the river only to have them in shade for a good part of the day. Keep a lower profile and build up from there. Maximize the view corridors and let taller buildings away from the river actually be able to see the river and not the back of the building facing it.

  • Jef – I’m not maintaining it has to be closed, I’m maintaining they won’t sell enough during those months out on a bridge by themselves, (with three possible pedestrian crossings within half a mile, from a relatively low density city on college hill, and a relatively low density neighborhood in the Jewelry district) – I just don’t think there’ll be enough traffic/business to justify keeping the doors open many months of the year. I am presuming studies can be done to analyze this, but on the face of it I just don’t see how you sell enough coffee here to justify the cost to build it, and upkeep.

    Nothing personal, or pro Florida here, it’s just that’s expensive square footage to build over a river, so you need to sell A LOT of coffee.

  • Personally I like 10 the best. It will not take away from the bookend parks but is still a destination on top of being a way to get from point A to point B.

    Is there a reason that the cafe couldn’t be a restaurant that serves adult drinks? That could be a great after-work spot and definitely would be the most uniquely located restaurant around. Look how unique the bar/restaurant at Fenway is with the view onto center field?

    It’s all about creating a unique space that couldn’t be found in anywhere, USA

  • When I went to the Press Conference down on the East Bank, it was a beautiful day and a couple of us were talking about what a great location it would be for a Beer Garden.

    There’s no reason it could not be coffee in the morning, and booze after work.

  • Intriguing location, I grant you yes. And more programming up the river would help Water Place park immensely.

    But in addition to your promised patronage I’m wondering if you’ll also be out there helping the parks department clear the snow (from this non-essential artery) from November-March so you can walk the quarter mile from where you park/live, out to the bar in the middle of the (cold, windy) river. I love this city, and this location, but please, human nature is what it is.

  • No, I will not be out there helping the parks department shovel snow, just as I am not out helping the DPW plow roads. What a silly thing to say. This artery is every bit as essential as Route 95.

  • A couple of the designs alluded to heating the slabs in a way that prevents ice and snow build up. Personally, I think all of them should include something like that for a portion of the bridge that will allow an unobstructed path in snowy or icy weather. The tech is easy; temperature guages to determine if its cold enough for ice and snow accumulation along with sensors to detect snow or rain. No need for Parks to do anything.

  • its a walkway in between two parks, with redundancies two blocks away in either direction, and it’s every bit as essential as Rte 95?

    I think your just trying to egg me on and you know putting a cafe there is tilting at windmills – which is why no other team did it. You almost got me.

  • Trunks, which bridge would you like to see built and why? I am interested to know which one you think will be a positive addition to the riverfront if you believe that there are “redundancies” two blocks away in either direction. Do you think there should be no bridge built? or one with an interesting amenity that would add to the program so as to not make it redundant? I feel you are not expressing what you think should be built there as much as telling others that their opinions are wrong.

  • Trunks, I think you’re missing some major points. Do you think people should just walk 2 blocks up, the equivalent of a block over the river, and then 2 blocks back down to get where they have to go? That’s 5 blocks out of the way and can add up to 5 minutes to a walk, assuming they don’t have to stop and wait for the lights to change to cross a street. Do you realize how many people would be walking or biking over this as part of their commute? Should we just ignore it because it’s a park and the city has always ignored parks? What do you want your tax money to go towards? Me? I want it to go towards snow removal, nice parks, and high quality and efficient city services.

  • I like 8, 9, and 10 the best, though 10 is a bit much and too costly. Of them all, 8 is the most elegant, more of a visual experience, yet simple and not extravagant.

  • I think that a cafe (below flood level, a good distance from any parking, no vehicular access, and on a windy river for many months of the year) will not be sustainable.

    And I believe citing this design as (at least partially) superior because the designers put a cafe in it is bunk. You won’t be able to build it (flood zone), no cafe owner will want it because they would be dependent on the DPW clearing the adjacent park paths for every snow storm, and while the location is sexy right now – Barnsiders, and Neatts had very close to the exact same view, and people didn’t line up to go eat there in the long run.

    I am not maintaining a bridge shouldn’t be built I was beating back Jef’s claim that it is every bit as essential as Rte 95. I stand by that bold claim – if that means I’m telling Jef he’s wrong, I apologize.

    Since you ask, with regards to the design specifics – I think 10 is ok, I don’t think in its final execution after value engineering it’ll feel much different than 6 or 7 (though 10’s renderings are sexier). And they will all generally feel like they are part of waterplace park – which is generally nice. 9 I don’t like, but it would also keep the waterplace status quo similarly IMHO.

    So I could live with any of those, but if the aim is to make an architectural gem, than I really think there are two choices, 3 and 4. 4 I think is very beautiful, and would certainly be a destination/landmark. I am concerned about budget, the maintenance, and the proclivity towards skateparkdom (though it’d be an awesome skate park) -but I think it is terriffic. 3 is a lot more subtle, but I think the reserved gestures mean there’ll be a lot more beautiful detailing possible, and crossing the river will be akin to visitng a Zumthor building. I’m not convinced about the size or materiality of the canopies, I think it would blend in enough it wouldn’t garner landmark status off the bat, and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t get the fanfare that 4 would were it built, but I think it would serve the city well in the long term.

    1 – reminds me of cathedral square.
    2 – It’s interesting in plan, but am unconvinced about the first person experience
    5, 11, and 8 – could be the same designer, well done, but unremarkable and I think would feel dated in 15 yrs.

  • Number 5. The structure is really nice, it flows with the river. I thought the design was both practical and original at the same time. Most of the other proposals look huge and over scaled or it is just a bridge structure that looks like its from somewhere else. The other bridges are either super wide or so narrow you need to have a dead end to find a spot to enjoy the scene. This bridge is nice and slim, but is still convenient to bikers and pedestrians.

  • 5- The bridge is elegant, yet can provide a lot of transportation for both pedestrians and bikers. The idea of seating also sounds like a good idea as people can sit anytime, but also watch any event that could happen on the river. I’m also sure the bridge would be beautiful at night with all the lights on. I’ve looked at pictures of the other bridges and I find them large and impractical. The bridges that have a curved feeling seem most appropriate.
    4. Nice too too, but I don’t see how you can maintain a wooden bridge unless there is a special endowment for it.
    3. Don’t think the solid roofs and straight paths look appropriate for this natural yet urban location – feels like a lot of dead ends.

  • While I am also not much of a proponent of the cafe idea, I think it is a bit misleading to cite Barnsider’s and Neath’s.

    On the first, they were very good for a long time and then they became quite terrible. You have to have a pretty exceptional view to overcome really poorly prepared food in a city where there are so many options.

    Neath’s closed because the owner wanted to spend more time with his family. IIRC his wife is a doctor and they didn’t need both incomes. Bacaro seems to be doing fine.

  • brick, I’m happy to concede that, though it wasn’t my intention to mislead, and you bring up a good one too. If the food isn’t so good, it doesn’t matter what the view is.

  • There is a problem with the circulation of Team 10’s design.
    If you are in a wheelchair or are wheeling a stroller, the only way to the cafe is from the east shore of the river.
    In other words, if you are on the west side you must:
    1st: cross the entire river
    2nd: head north on a path on shore
    3rd: turn to head back west and
    4th: go midway back across the river again to reach the cafe.
    To return to the west shore, from the cafe, you must repeat the above steps again, this time in reverse.

  • I’m a designer who has spend time this year at both RISD and Brown, and I’m most excited by option number FIVE. It’s incredibly elegant in the overview, creating an almost intimate relationship with the river and the land. I love the canopy: having been there in the summer, I would have loved the shade. Mostly, it has a considered way of allowing for seating and lingering on the bridge to experience the river and the views. It has just the right amount of design to be an effective bridge, a handsome addition to the cityscape, and a lovely space for people to experience Providence.

  • Thank you design #3 for creating a bridge that is about the experience of crossing the river. This is an elegant, somewhat quiet design, that does not cover up what was just uncovered. The river revealed should stay that way…this design understands that.

  • Returning to this subject because I caught the “tower” idea from M.r Brassard.Yes I thought right off as the demo was beginning about Signature Towers
    What corporation new to the city,or homegrown could build 600,000 to 750,000sq ft of space without putting Downcity into scramble mode.
    I feel there is enough critical business to put a tower of this scope into play.Providence will surely be on anyone’s short list after this recession.It’s a fun town with interesting minds and creative people pulling together.
    A signature 500-550 height seems reasonable. I,and many welcome defrocking the “Superman building” .just be considerate of the scale.

Providence, RI
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