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Bridging the Gap

“We Build Too Many Walls, and Not Enough Bridges.” Isaac Newton

A bridge is a connector, not simply a structure that carries a pathway over a depression or obstacle. Bridges eliminate barriers and offer opportunities, not only to the possibilities of the other side, but to a vantage point from which to see where one has been and where one is going. They are iconic, powerful structures that symbolize a community’s willingness to reach beyond their own borders. Bridges link two opposite sides and in doing so join people together, creating possibilities for gathering collectively. As infrastructure that promotes human connection, a bridge is paramount in the creation of a socially-sustainable environment, and it is landscape from which bridges spring and upon which they alight. Our common ground that unifies people, landscape is the most democratic environment and does not discriminate between people, their occupation or position in life.

Three years ago, Davood Liaghat of Buro Happold invited Yves Pages & Benoit Le Thierry d’Ennequin of Explorations Architecture and David A. Rubin, then partner at OLIN, to enter the Northern Virginia Regional Commission’s design competition for the Four Mile Run Pedestrian/Cyclist Bridge between Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. The team’s entry envisions a structure that not only crosses the tributary, but is also a place – an occupiable structure from which to see and be seen. The bridge focuses on the park’s interior water edge with amphitheater seating that steps down from the central pedestrian and cycling path, so that those seated float just above the water’s elevation. And on the opposite side, a high-backed bench along the upper edge of the bridge focuses on the parade of those passing by. Four Mile Run Bridge recently completed the first quarter of its public review process.

Four-Mile Run Bridge © LAND COLLECTIVE 2013

The team assembled once more in 2010 for the ARC: International Wildlife Crossing Infrastructure Design Competition and became one of six international finalists in this prestigious ideas-generating effort. The entry, entitled “Wild X-ing”, is an iconic, adaptable and modular structure capable of being deployed in a variety of circumstances. It is comprised of landscape components that allow the bridge to adapt to its surroundings, even in the face of changing habitat and wildlife migration patterns due to global warming, so that a feeling of “normalcy” supports the mega-fauna that will use the bridge to cross challenging vehicular traffic conditions, like the I-70 competition site. The inventive solution has been presented and displayed at several conferences and museums over 2012, including: “Yellowstone to Yukon: The Journey of Wildlife and Art,” at the Whyte Museum of Banff, Alberta, Canada; the Infra Eco Network Europe (IENE) Conference in Berlin, Germany; the TranOvation Conference in Leesburg, VA; and America’s Summit on National Parks, Washington, D.C.