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Video: “Executive Suite” 195 Commission

This week on Executive Suite: Colin Kane, chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, and Jan Brodie, the commission’s newly named executive director.

Kane and Brodie discuss the commission’s role in redeveloping the land, their vision for the area and their estimates of how long it will take to make significant progress. They also tackle questions about the interim use of the land and the possible broader impact on Rhode Island’s economy.

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“Reevaluating” the pedestrian bridge

Update: The Planning Department has clarified for me what went down.

When the Mayor was elected, some people reached out to him to allege that the competition process was unfair, and that Team 3 should have won. The Mayor reviewed the process and determined that it was fair. When asked to re-open the design process, the Mayor said, “no.” Contrary to the consternations of some, Team 10 remains the winning team and the Planning Department will work with the team to finalize the design.


You may remember there was a competition to choose the design for the proposed pedestrian bridge over the Providence River. Well, I’ve heard rumblings that some on the design committee were not happy with the winner that that committee was tasked with choosing. And today the Brown Daily Herald reports this:

Now, Mayor Angel Taveras is reevaluating the decision between the competition’s two close finalists. “The new mayor wants to reexamine that and make sure it’s the right decision,” [Michael] McCormick [Brown University assistant vice president for planning, design and construction] said.

So, I’m not even going to get into the ridiculousness of going through the theatre of having a design competition, picking a distinguished judging panel, inviting a winner here and telling them they have the commission, only to wait for an election and ask the new mayor to ‘reevaluate’ that decsion. I mean good luck getting any remotely qualified candidates next time you hold a ‘design competition’ (OK, so I’m getting into it a little bit).

As of yet, I don’t think the public has been invited into this ‘reevaluation’ so, let’s have it out here. What say you?

Team 10, the chosen winning design inFORM studio/Buro Happold (visit Flickr to see their full proposal):

-or-

Team 3 by Studio Providence, the runner up (visit Flickr to see their full proposal):


Reevaluating the Pedestrian Bridge, what do you think?

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What Cheer/What Jeer 2010

What Cheer/What Jeer was originally supposed to be a monthly, or a quarterly thing, but you know what, it is a lot of work putting a list like this together, so it has become an annual thing. So join us as we take a look back at 2010, What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheerProvidence River Pedestrian Bridge

Whether you love it or hate it, Providence will soon be getting a new pedestrian bridge over the Providence River. Design firms large and small from around the world entered the competition that led to the winning design. And the competition got people around the city interested in transportation and design.

providence-river-pedestrian-bridge

whatcheerRIPTA

Last year we declared that 2010 would be “The Year of RIPTA” and not to be too smug about it but, we were kinda right.

In December 2009 RIPTA and the City of Providence released the Metro Transit Study, which drew a lot of attention to its proposal to run a streetcar line through Providence. This year, RIPTA embarked on their Core Connector Study, the first step toward bringing streetcars back to Providence. In June, U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Providence and was very excited about our future plans. RIPTA also took delivery of a new fleet of hybrid buses and trolleys in October. This year also saw RIPTA unveil a 5-year plan for the future of transit in Rhode Island. Finally, RIPTA hired a new CEO, Charles Odimgbe. It is early days yet in Mr. Odimgbe’s tenure, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be What Cheered or What Jeered next year.

Certainly all was not good for RIPTA this year, 2010 saw the continuation of an annual tradition wherein RIPTA’s budget falls short resulting in the agency looking to cut routes and/or increase fares. This year they went with increasing fares yet again. Here’s hoping the incoming Governor and General Assembly can work to address the issues surrounding RIPTA’s budget.

whatcheerElection 2010

What an exciting year that was. New Mayor, new Governor, new Congressman from Providence (even if he is a freshman and in the minority party, that’s good for us!), many new City Councilors, Shoveitgate, The Uncaucas, Chris Young… Let’s do that again real soon (well, not too soon).

whatcheerThe Interlink & MBTA to Warwick

October saw the opening of the long awaited Interlink. The skybridge connects T.F. Green Airport to a parking garage, rental car facilities, and a train station via a skybridge with moving sidewalks over Post Road. The Interlink opening was followed in December by the extension of MBTA Commuter Rail service from Providence to the station at the Interlink facility. Next year that service will be expanded and will go further south to a new station currently under construction at Wickford Junction.

Interlink

whatcheerThe Box Office

The Box Office was completed this year. The building, made out of shipping containers brought national attention to Providence within the construction and design communities for its innovative design. Developers from near and far want to replicate the building in their communities.

whatcheerThe Arts

We What Cheered the arts last year, and we’re What Cheering them again this year. Woonsocket’s Riverzedge and Providence’s Community Music Works each took home one of fifteen 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (after Providence’s New Urban Arts won the same award last year (go Rhody!)). AS220 celebrated their 25th Anniversary this year, commissioned RISD alum Shepard Fairy to create a mural on Aborn Street, and is wrapping up renovation on its third Downcity Building, The Mercantile Block. And basically, art in Providence just continued to be pretty damn awesome. Buy Art!

Last year, we weren’t really in the mood to What Jeer, we had jeered enough I guess. But this year, oh, here go hell come, are you ready? Let’s do it.

whatjeerRIDOT

RIDOT, seriously, you’re killing us here. While we’ve said it time and again, we really like what Director Michael Lewis has to say about not being able to build more highways to end congestion and needing to be multi-modal and what not… the Director’s words have not been matching the agency’s actions.

From the craptacular original design of the Wickenden Street intersection related to the 195 Relocation, to the ridiculous placement of signs on the sidewalk on the Friendship Street bridge, to the utter disregard for any mode other than automobiles in the planning of the new Union Avenue Bridge, and more, RIDOT has proven that they have a long way to go in understanding how to build infrastructure in an urban environment and serve a multi-modal population.

Governor-elect Chafee has decided to keep Director Lewis on at RIDOT, a decision we agree with. Let’s hope that the Director can make the agency’s actions match his own and the Governor’s visions for how our transportation system should look. We’re hoping next year we might be able to What Cheer RIDOT.

whatjeerThe Arcade/35 Weybosset

Though these are separate properties, they are linked in the public consciousness and the destiny of each may best be served by thinking of them together. The What Jeer here is pretty obvious, the Arcade still sits empty and the facade at 35 Weybosset Street remains neglected.

The neglect of the 35 Weybosset facade is the clearest example available of a developer attempting a demolition by neglect, and he is beginning to get a lot of support for that option, though we clearly think there is a better way.

As for the Arcade, we might have to agree with one of our commenters that the best course of action is eminent domain.

whatjeerGrove Street School

Seeing as the Grove Street School’s current owner, Michael Tarro won election to the General Assembly, the school’s future seems more tenuous than ever.

Grove Street School

The good news is, the new City Councilor for Ward 13, Bryan Principe is an ardent supporter of the building. Let’s hope Bryan and the new Mayor can work on an arrangement with Mr. Tarro on the building’s future.

whatjeerCVS

While in the end, CVS agreed to some minor concessions on their initial proposal for a CVS in Edgewood, they’re still basically dropping a box from the sky into the middle of a parking lot. We still don’t know why CVS hates Rhode Island.

whatjeerUnion Wadding Mill Fire

Did they ever catch the bastard who did this? There’s a $10,000 reward you know.

Photo from Pawtucket Foundation Facebook Page

whatjeerParkinglotification

Last year we What Cheered the Smith-Mathewson Building proposed for where the Downcity Diner used to be. This year it is a parking lot. Sigh.

whatjeerAtwells Avenue

As if enduring 14 months of construction at the intersection with Dean Street wasn’t bad enough, at the other end of the Avenue we had a girl who works at a Salon and a City Councilor run down by errant drivers within weeks of each other. We all know which one got the most attention from the media, including us.

After years of people getting hit on Atwells, to the point where those of us who live up there see it as part of life, the hit and run of Councilman Hassett did serve to jolt us all out of our malaise on the topic. After years of inaction we now have some repainted crosswalks, more signs, and a speed bump at the western end of the Avenue (where most of the pedestrians have been struck). Much more needs to be done to improve the safety situation not just on Atwells, but on roads throughout the city.

Let us not fall back into our malaise where we accept people being struck by cars as an inevitable part of city life, it is not. Let us make sure that we follow through on the outrage that followed the Councilman’s injuries and act to do all we can to ensure that it does not happen again.


We could probably go on, but let’s wrap up the What Cheering and What Jeering there. Feel free to add you own in the comments.

Thank you to everyone who reads and contributes to Greater City: Providence. It was a great year discussing the city we all love.

Happy New Year!

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The winner is Team 10, inFORM studio/Buro Happold

DesignTeam10Slides_Page_01


And the winning design for the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge is…. inFORM studio and Buro Happold (Design Team 10)!less than a minute ago via web


Mayor’s Press Release:

Award-winning Design Firm Selected to Shape the Future of Providence’s New Pedestrian Bridge

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
inFORM Studio has been chosen to design the pedestrian bridge that will replace the old I-195 bridge and link Fox Point and College Hill to downtown

PROVIDENCE – Mayor David N. Cicilline announced that the design submitted by inFORM Studio in association with the engineering firm Buro Happold has been selected as the winner of the Providence Pedestrian Bridge Design Competition. inFORM Studio, whose website states the firm takes an environmentally sustainable approach to every project, is an award-winning design-based practice with offices in Michigan, New York and South Carolina.

“I want to thank the members of the Pedestrian Bridge Design Selection Committee for their extraordinary commitment, passion and dedication to this process,” said Mayor Cicilline. “We received incredible designs from all over the world and I want to commend the Selection Committee for creating a fair, transparent and inclusive selection process that encouraged input from the entire community.”

The bridge, which will be a defining landmark on Providence’s waterfront, will be used by pedestrians and cyclists alike and connect Fox Point and College Hill with downtown and the Knowledge District. Key elements of the winning design include a boardwalk that would provide information about the local habitat, a café, outdoor seating with a view of Providence’s waterfront, a cascading terrace and sundeck, sculpture and gardens.

“We are both delighted and humbled by the Competition Committee’s selection of our concept,” said Michael Guthrie, InFORM Studio. “It is a great privilege to serve the community of Providence considering the many outstanding designs submitted.”

inFORM Studio was among 11 finalists selected from 47 firms from Rhode Island and around the world for consideration by the Pedestrian Bridge Design Selection Committee. The Committee spent the entire month of November reviewing design proposals in a blind competition which included written comments from the public, who viewed the designs at Providence City Hall and online. “Public engagement has played a major role in the selection process and resulted in some of the proposed designs being viewed online more than 3,000 times,” said Mayor Cicilline. The Providence-based architectural design firm Studio Providence was the runner-up.

The new pedestrian bridge will be constructed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation based on inFORM Studio’s design specifications. It will replace the I-195 bridge after it is dismantled as part of the highway relocation project.

Members of the Pedestrian Bridge Design Selection Committee included Jessie Shefrin, Rhode Island School of Design; Michael Lewis, Director, DOT; Robert McMahon, Providence Parks Superintendent; Thomas Deller, Director Planning and Development for the City of Providence; Michael McCormick, Brown University; Joseph DiBatista, private business representative; Michael Warner, VP Rhode Island Chapter of AIA; Ian Barnacle, President Fox Point Neighborhood Association; Arthur Salisbury, VP Jewelry District Association and Edward Sanderson, Executive Director, RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.


More details/info as it becomes available.

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Planning Department all a-Twitter

For those of you not down with Twitter, I thought I’d share some of the tweets coming out of the Planning Department this morning:

ProvPlanning
Stay tuned: Mayor is expected to announce the winning design for the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge on Tuesday morning. (!!!)

ProvPlanning
We will also be revealing the names of all 11 design teams from the Providence Pedestrian Bridge Design Competition on Tuesday afternoon.

ProvPlanning
Did you know: there are approx. 46 acres of vacant/underutilzed parcels in the Jewelry District (that’s >45% of the land in the district)!?!

ProvPlanning
Throughout the entire Core Connector Study area there are approx. 106 acres of vacant/underutilized land.

ProvPlanning
Planned New Orleans streetcar line spurs development on surface parking lots: Nola.com

Good stuff.

Follow the Planning Department on Twitter @ProvPlanning and follow Greater City: Providence on Twitter @gcpvd.

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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

DesignTeam1Slides_Page_01

DesignTeam1Slides_Page_03

More renderings and detailed information here.

Pedestrian Bridge

Design Team 2

DesignTeam2Slides_Page_3

DesignTeam2Slides_Page_4

More renderings and detailed information here.

Three Pier Bridge

Design Team 3

DesignTeam3Slides_Page_06

DesignTeam3Slides_Page_02

More renderings and detailed information here.

The Uncovered Bridge

Design Team 4

DesignTeam4Slides_Page_07

DesignTeam4Slides_Page_10

More renderings and detailed information here.

Team 5

Design Team 5

DesignTeam5Slides_Page_06

DesignTeam5Slides_Page_07

More renderings and detailed information here.

Continue Reading →

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Pedestrian Bridge designs to be unveiled November 3rd

Providence River looking south
Photo (cc) atvance

Pedestrian River Bridge Designs to be Displayed at Providence City Hall

Public invited to view the designs of 11 finalists and provide feedback at a reception at Providence City Hall on November 3rd

PROVIDENCE – The Public will have an opportunity to view the proposed bridge designs of 11 finalists competing in the Providence Pedestrian River Bridge Design Competition at a special reception on Wednesday, November 3rd from 5pm until 7pm at Providence City Hall.

The new bridge will link pedestrians and cyclists from Fox Point and College Hill to the City’s new waterfront parks, the Knowledge District and downtown. Mayor David N. Cicilline kicked off a design competition in September and invited firms to play an important role in shaping the future of Providence’s waterfront.

The Pedestrian River Bridge Design Selection Committee, comprised of local architects, neighborhood residents, representatives from local universities, business owners, RIDOT and the City, chose the following 11 finalists from a pool of 47 firms from around the world:

  • !melk/Balmond Studio/Robert Silman Associates (New York, NY)
  • Endres Ware (Berkeley, CA)
  • H2L2/Arup (Philadelphia, PA)
  • inFORM studio/Buro Happold (New York, NY)
  • La Dallman Architects (Milwaukee, WI)
  • McDowell + Benedetti Architects LLP (London, England)
  • RFR (Paris, France)
  • Rosales + Partners/Schlaich Bergermann and Partner (Boston, MA)
  • Studio Providence, LLC (Providence, RI)
  • William D. Warner Architects and Planners, Ltd. (Exeter, RI)
  • WXY architecture + urban design (New York, NY)

The 11 designs will remain on display on the third floor of Providence City Hall throughout the month of November and can also be viewed online at Flickr beginning Thursday, November 4th. The public is invited to provide written feedback on the designs online at the November 3rd reception as well as online at Flickr. The public’s feedback will be taken into consideration by the selection committee as part of its deliberations.

The wining design, which will be used by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to construct the new pedestrian bridge, will be announced the last week in November. The pedestrian bridge is slated for completion in 2013.

City News

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News & Notes

→ SFGate: Footbridge an elegant new icon in East Bay

The 600-foot-long arc not only eases the way for pedestrians and bicyclists, it also sends a message naysayers choose to ignore: our society should aim to produce civic works on par with cherished landmarks from the New Deal or the Carnegie libraries of the generation before that.

This larger cultural role is what civic infrastructure can achieve when built with ambition and the long-term view. Contra Costa’s Redevelopment Agency deserves credit for pulling together the funding from county, state and federal sources.

The word “icon” is used far too often in architectural hype. But at its own modest scale, Robert I. Schroder Overcrossing shows what an icon can be. You don’t expect to see it; once you do, you’re glad it’s there. And you look forward to seeing and experiencing it again.


→ American Planning Association: 10 Best Public Spaces of 2010

Maybe someday Kennedy Plaza will make the list.


→ The Gondola Project at Creative Urban Projects: Rio to Open Urban Gondola System This Year

Peter Brassard touched upon aerial trams, or gondollas, in his recent post and here is another urban system to add to the list in Brazil. As Rio prepares to host the Olympics in 2016(?) this is one of the infrastructure projects they have been working on.

In this article I even learned a new term, CPT meaning Cable Propelled Transit system. Add that to the lexicon of BRT, LRT, TOD, and other transit acronyms.


→ Lincoln Institute of Land Policy: Public Space Project and Shared Space-Harvard Square-Woonerf Streets

But in Europe, designers are taking it a step further – removing traffic signals and signage altogether, relying on the human ability to adapt and communicate with other drivers and pedestrians by entering an intersection or traveling down a street and figuring it all out. It’s a counter-intuitive notion to be sure, based in the Dutch concept of the “woonerf,” a street that eliminates the strict separation of uses and instead invites a civil set of ad-hoc rules and eye contact. Woonerfs are all around us – the valet area in front of a hotel, or the parking lot in front of Target. Everybody slows down because there is an obvious mix of parking and getting out of cars and moving around on foot.

I mention woonerfs here from time to time and at some point really should devote an entire post to the concept, but until I get around to it, this post is a really good introduction to the concept.

A woonerf plaza outside City Hall is included in the Vision For Kennedy Plaza and I often walk down the alley I live on on Federal Hill and imagine it transformed into a shared space. Let’s try to introduce “woonerf” into the Providence lexicon.


→ Market Urbanism “Urbanism for Capitalists/Capitalism for Urbanists”: The inanity of airport connectors

The airport connector is a special beast of a rail-based transit system that’s a relatively recent phenomenon outside of transit-dense regions like Western Europe and Japan. So manifestly wasteful that it generates more animosity towards mass transit than it does riders, it’s a project that only politicians and unions could love. Unlike more integrated networks where the airport is just one station on an otherwise viable route (like Philadelphia’s Airport Line or DC’s proposed Silver Line), airport connectors generally serve only the airport and one local hub. With no purpose other than to get people in and out of the airport, they provide neither ancillary transit benefits nor TOD opportunities. Oftentimes they don’t even reach downtown, acting instead like glorified park-and-rides.

Luckily our connector is one stop on a line that runs from Boston and eventually past the airport onto Wickford Junction and maybe Westerly, New London, who knows… It is one of the good ones…

[...] with the Rhode Island DOT recently reaching a deal on its $267 million “Interlink” project, which entails building a station at the airport on an existing line, along with a commuter parking garage and a rental car facility. The station is only expected to see six trains a day initially, which is probably for the best since Providence’s T.F. Green Airport isn’t exactly O’Hare. No word on whether any additional density is being allowed around the new station, but something tells me the answer is no.

Sigh. The City of Warwick established the Warwick Station Redevelopment Agency years ago to guide development in the “Metro Center” area around the station. RIPTA is keen on transforming bus services in Kent County to focus transportation on the new station, making it a transit hub not just for air and rail, but for buses, further fueling the transit oriented development potential of the station area.

Yup, T.F. Green is not O’Hare, for that matter neither is Logan or BWI or LaGuardia or JFK or LAX. 6 trains a day, initially, yes. But once Wickford Junction opens next year, that number goes up. The Interlink is not about getting people to and from planes full stop, it is much more than that. It is a commuter link for Kent County and South County, it is an economic development tool for the City of Warwick and the airport.

Kevin Dillon, President and CEO of RIAC pointed out in rebutting Joe Paolino’s characterization of the Interlink as a “boondoggle” on GoLocalProv that low cost European carriers are looking at the northeast and at T.F. Green in particular. Why Green and not Bradley or Manchester? Because of the Interlink.

[airport connectors] are often a sort of cargo cult urbanism that seeks to emulate the frills of good transit systems isn’t willing to make the hard decisions necessary to actually build a robust network and allow the density to fill it. In the case of the the Providence airport, lawmakers said they hoped the station would attract international service to the currently domestic-only airport – as if Providence can acquire the amenities of a big city without allowing itself to become one.

There will undoubtedly be some NIMBY hurdles to overcome regarding density along the rail line, especially if we add a station in Cranston (can you imagine, denisty in Cranston!?), but the whole point of the southern push of commuter rail is to build density where it makes sense, along the transit line, and to aid people who live further from it in leaving their cars somewhere other than downtown (or idling on the highway getting to downtown).

The line about Providence trying to attract big city amenities without actually allowing itself to become a big city… that I just don’t get. Again, there will always be NIMBYism surrounding growth, but I think political leaders, the business community, and a good deal of the citizenry would be more than happy to see the city become bigger. At the very least, if we grew it would be indicative of our economy emerging from the toilet.

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