I-195 pedestrian bridge design winner selected, will put café at water level

THE WINNING DESIGN for the new pedestrian bridge over the Providence River will include gardens and, facing downtown, a water-level cafe. For a larger version of this image, CLICK HERE.
Posted 12/14/10

PROVIDENCE – After spending a month reviewing 11 finalists in a competition informed by extensive public commentary, the city’s Pedestrian Bridge Design Selection Committee has chosen the design submitted by inFORM Studio and Buro Happold to be built on top of the piers in the Providence River left behind by the moving of Interstate 195 in the Capital City.

Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline made the announcement Tuesday, noting that the winning design to link Fox Point and College Hill with the burgeoning Knowledge District was chosen from work submitted by 47 firms from around the world. The 11 finalists had been on display in Providence City Hall during November, as well as online, and the competition committee had been fielding comments both in City Hall and on the city’s website.

The winning design includes a water-level café, an interpretive boardwalk, space for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, as well as a cascading terrace/sundeck and gardens. Construction will begin on the bridge once the rest of the highway is removed, with completion expected sometime in 2013, according to the R.I. Department of Transportation.

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

How the state will pay for the bridge remains unclear. The DOT has set aside $2 million to cover the bridge’s construction but the city pegs the bridge’s cost at between $4 million and $5 million, said Director of Long-Range Planning Bonnie Nickerson.

The city had initially told firms submitting designs to assume a $4 million budget, banking on a plan to win $2 million in federal grant money. But that money never materialized and now the city and state will look elsewhere, Nickerson said.

She said possible sources include private grants, institutional support or other government money. The city could also scale back the project or build the bridge in phases, but Nickerson said the intent is to remain true to the design presented by inFORM.

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