Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Here is a precedent for the suggested Harbor bridge

Out of all the ideas contained in the Harbor 2.0 masterplan prepared by Ayers Saint Gross, the pedestrian bridge spanning from Rash Field to Pier Five has sparked the most heated discussions. As it goes with those grand ideas, they tend to be straw-fires, bright but without endurance. So today the remaining discussion topics are the McKeldin Plaza, Rash Field and the Harborplace pavilions.  All that could change of course, if Cordish comes through with his idea of a new Arena on Pier 5 and 6.  Then the bridge may come back into focus. 

rendering of the suggested Harbor 2.0 bridge (ASG)

But my curiosity regarding the bridge topic was peaked also when I saw this article about a proposed ped/bike bridge for London's Docklands. It looks elegant, it opens for tall ships and it isn't supposed to cost a fortune. As I noted in earlier comments, a direct connection from Federal Hill to Harbor East (where I would land the bridge instead of Pier 5) would be a real game changer in terms of the mobility shed for alternative modes. In plain English, how far you can walk and bike within a mile or two. The suggested bridge would connect north and south shores of the Patapsco in a new way. Of course, striving for the most enlarged walk or bid-shed, a connection between Locust Point (the foot of Hull Street) and the Broadway Pier would be even more enticing.

The new London bridge was designed by reForm Architects and Elliot Wood Engineers.
“It’s a no-brainer,” says architect Nik Randall, a Southwark resident for 30 years, whose practice ReForm has come up with a design for the bridge with engineersElliott Wood. “It has the potential to unlock journeys way beyond the surrounding area, encouraging people to cycle to work who might not ever have considered it before.”
The proposed bridge does what a Baltimore Harbor bridge in either location would have to do as well, be lean, elegant and very light so not to interfere too much with the vista of the water opening out. The Guardian is quite complementary of the design which has some creative aspects described by the Guardian this way:
In an ingenious – and the designers say unique – move, the 100-tonne counterweights, required to open a “bascule” drawbridge of this kind, are embedded in the length of the two masts, doing away with the need for hefty enclosures to house them in the rest of the structure. The two sides simply pivot, allowing the angled masts to slot effortlessly into the wishbone-shaped decks at either side. The result is an exceptionally lean structure, which looks like a pair of whale bones held in fine balance. It would be an appropriately graceful gateway to greet boats arriving in London.
The price tag is given with £88 million ($132 million) but public officials are already talking about a a range up to £200 million ($300 million).  Eyeballing the renderings, the Harbor 2.0 bridge may be shorter than the Thames bridge. By comparison, the four lane bridge across the narrow body of water at the bottom of Central Avenue that connects to HarborPoint is estimated to cost $15 million. That bridge, however is neither elegant nor as useful as a ped-bike bridge could be. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

Guardian article

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