WINNERS

After three hours in jury and a week of public input, the results are in for Project Gait-Way. And the results are unanimous. Both local stakeholders and individual citizens agreed that the best solution to the Belmont Bridge is … no bridge.

Entry #2 “Belmont UnAbridged” proposed removing the current bridge in favor of an at-grade crossing, activating underutilized city property, allowing for a permanent home for a Charlottesville Farmer’s Market, public orchards, a trellised shade park and the utilization of former bridge easements for mixed-use, low-profile development in the city’s center.

This solution won the People’s Choice last week when the designs were unveiled in a UVA pre-exhibit. This Sunday, the design won the Jury Awards for both Best Bridge Design and Best Urban Planning – as well as People’s Choice Awards for Best Bridge Design and Best Urban Planning.

Students collaborating on the winning design were: Kate Martin, Wyatt Hill, Nell Connors, Charlotte Miller, Jason Truesdale, Joanna McKnight, Madeleine Hawks, Kirsten Sparenborg, Chris Barker, Enrique Cavelier, Meghan Maupin, Rodrick Cruz and Kelly Hitzing. The UVA team was advised by WG Clark, UVA’s Edmund Schureman Campbell Professor of Architecture, and Architectural History Professor Daniel Bluestone (watch his contextual history of the previous Belmont Bridges at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXM4TAqTWBs).

Our idea is to connect the Downtown Mall with Belmont and views beyond of Jefferson’s Monticello Mountain and the Southwest Mountains. In order to do this we have created a civic plaza with broad terraces leading to a vibrant new farmers’ market located on the Belmont side of the railroad tracks. On the plaza is the 12th bosque of willow oak trees, extending Lawrence Halprin’s beautiful pedestrian mall groves, while completing his unrealized vision for an east end plaza. The new farmers’ market incorporates the iconic flourmill (Beck-Cohen) where local farmers historically brought their harvest. We seek an optimistic act of urban place-making, gateway, connection, and recovery. The design drops the Belmont Bridge roadway to a narrower grade-level railroad crossing. It moves the Pavilion tent to a more historically and environmentally appropriate place. At the former Ix factory, where thousands of Charlottesville workers produced silk parachutes that helped win World War II, we propose a new billowing performance tent. Located in a low-lying valley the tent is bounded by earthen protectors and Oakwood Cemetery to dampen concert noise. This location aligns on axis with the Downtown Mall’s Central Place and extends recent urban developments along South Second Street. We do not need the proposed $14.5 million bridge; historically over 100 trains moved daily through this area. Now the number is often only 5 trains a day, taking less than 7 minutes to pass. We propose widening the nearby 4th Street underpass to two lanes. When trains approach downtown, signals can direct traffic to the underpass and west to the bridge at Ridge Street. Land recovered from the bridge right-of-way and approaches will provide excellent sites for new dwellings and businesses. By unABRIDGING we will strengthen our neighborhoods and our city.


The complete list of winners follows

Project Gait-Way: The Belmont Bridge Design Competition

Competition Jury:
Joe Atkins (VMDO Architects), Phoebe Crisman (Architecture, UVA), Heather Higgins (Bike Charlottesville), Greg Jackson (Pres., Belmont Carlton Neigh Assoc.), Peter Waldman (Architecture, UVA), Brian Wimer (Project Gait-Way organizer), Zack Worrell (Bridge PAI co-founder)

Best Bridge Design

1st PLACE ($500 prize): Belmont UnAbridged – UVA Team 18
Students: Kate Martin, Wyatt Hill, Nell Connors, Charlotte Miller, Jason Truesdale, Joanna McKnight, Madeleine Hawks, Kirsten Sparenborg, Chris Barker, Enrique Cavelier, Meghan Maupin, Rodrick Cruz, Kelly Hitzing, Madeleine Hawks, ARH students: Joanna McKnight, Kirsten Sparenborg. Faculty Advisors: WG Clark + Daniel Bluestone.

2nd PLACE ($300 prize): Ninth & Avon – Jim Rounsevell

Ninth + Avon The evolution of Lawrence Halprin’s original landscape proposal for the east end of the Downtown Mall has been transformed by the development of the Pavilion and Transit Station. The existing bridge no longer fits. A more balanced, less vehicle-centric solution reflects the aspirations of the community and provides an improved pedestrian experience. The insertion of a new, separate pedestrian bridge logically extends a direct link between the Mall and the south entry corridor providing an opportunity to expand public use of city owned parcels surrounding the bridges as well as an alternate route during Pavilion events. Fortunately, VDOT allocates funding for pedestrian overpasses separate from its general bridge construction budgets. The estimated construction cost of this proposal is between 11 and 12.5 million dollars for the vehicle span and 2.5 to 3 million dollars for the pedestrian span. Vehicular span A typical concrete deck on steel I-beams, rests on four concrete T-beam moment frames much like chair legs. A canted painted steel plate ceiling welded to the underside of the steel beams provides lateral stability and bends upward, forming the guardrails. The inner location of the vehicular barrier reduces the live load requirement of the structure at the edge, reducing its perceived mass and cost. The simplified profile, a straight forward structural approach, and a restrained use of materials define the bridge’s role as a supporting actor. Pedestrian span A visual counterpoint to the dominant form of the Pavilion, the new bridge redefines a fragmented urban space. Stretching from the abandoned abutment of the old Avon street bridge to the large mass of the Pavilion-side block retaining wall, the cable-stayed arced horizontal truss structure splays from its alignment with the urban grid to arrive on axis with the statues of the founding fathers.

3rd PLACE ($200 prize):(Re)Connect Charlottesville – Daniel LaRossa, Amadeo Bennetta

The (RE)CONNECT BRIDGE pairs an articulated pedestrian and cyclist-scaled crossing with an efficient four-lane vehicular span. Though the bridge utilizes standard structural design, existing pier locations and construction methodology, the aggregation of all bike lanes and sidewalks onto the western edge of the bridge creates an expansive pedestrian promenade while physically linking the residents of Belmont to the Downtown Mall. Subtly raised above the elevation of vehicular traffic, the (RE)CONNECT BRIDGE becomes more than a simple crossing. By envisioning the (RE)CONNECT BRIDGE as critical not only to the physical, but to the CULTURAL infrastructure of Charlottesville, it operates as a nexus for both community and commuters. The architecture of the bridge is a graceful ribbon that provides efficient circulation, protected seating and panoramic views across downtown to the Blue Ridge Mountains. In Belmont, the bridge engages the underutilized Avon Street area and creates a community plaza suitably-sized for small weekend markets, organized events and daily recreation. Built primarily of wood slats on a ribbed frame, The (RE)CONNECT BRIDGE acts as crowd-sourced infrastructure. Through the stenciling of these planks with family names, neighborhood organizations and other groups native to Charlottesville, the bridge literally rebuilds links within the city. This act, inherently localized, fuses the bridge with the cultural diversity of the city, creating a new vision for public space at the urban scale.

Honorable Mention: The Belmont Bridge – Tim Tessier

AS A GATEWAY TO CHARLOTTESVILLE THE TRIP ACROSS THE BELMONT BRIDGE SHOULD BE INVITING, MEMORABLE AND SAFE. PARKS LOCATED AT EACH ACCESS POINT ENCOURAGE PEDESTRIANS TO MEET WITH FRIENDS, EAT A LUNCH, ATTEND AN EVENT OR WATCH CHILDREN PLAY. ON THE BRIDGE PEOPLE ARE PROTECTED FROM BIKES AND CARS AND CAN PAUSE AT OVERLOOKS TO WATCH TRAINS, VIEW THE PARK, STUDY DROUGHT-TOLERANT PLANTINGS OR TAKE A HAND AT TURNING A CRANK WHICH SPINS A FABRIC SAIL. ON WINDY DAYS THE SAILS TURN IN UNISON INVITING NATURE TO MAKE ITS MARK ON THE WAY PEOPLE EXPERIENCE THE JOURNEY OVER THE BRIDGE. THE BRIDGE PROJECT INCLUDES WORK BEYOND THE SCOPE OF SIMPLY REPLACING THE BRIDGE. AVON STREET NORTH OF LEVY AVENUE AND THE PARKING AREA UNDER THE BRIDGE ARE CONVERTED TO PARK AND OPEN SPACE. NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR RECREATION INCLUDE A SKATEBOARD PARK, MARKET SPACE, COMMUNITY GARDENS AND EVENT SPACE. A NEW STAIR DOWN TO THE TRANSIT CENTER AND A PATH LEADING DOWN TO LEXIS NEXIS IMPROVE ACCESS TO AND FROM THE BRIDGE. PLANTS USED IN THE BRIDGE PLANTERS ARE HARDY, DROUGHT TOLERANT SPECIES. RAIN RUNOFF IS LET INTO THE PLANTERS, AND A SOLAR-POWERED PUMP MOVES WATER FROM CISTERNS IN THE PARKS AT THE BASE OF THE BRIDGE TO ASSIST DURING DRY SPELLS. THESE CISTERNS RECEIVE WATER TREATED BY BIOFILTERS IN THE PARKS WHICH ARE GREAT EDUCATIONAL TOOLS. THOUGHTFUL USE OF CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS HAS ALSO BEEN CONSIDERED. BELMONT HAS A RICH HISTORY TIED TO THE RAILROAD AND ADJACENT INDUSTRIAL MILLS. AS SUCH, STANDING SEAM GALVANIZED ALUMINUM PANELS CLAD THE SIDES OF THE BRIDGE SHIELDING THE STRUCTURAL “GUTS” AS WELL AS CREATING A PLAYFUL REFERENCE TO SIDING SEEN ON NEARBY STRUCTURES AND PATTERNING OF THE RAILROAD CARS AND TRACKS. FABRIC SAILS ALONG THE BRIDGE ALSO PROVIDE A REFERENCE TO THE ADJACENT PAVILION TENT.

Honorable Mention: The Belmont RidgeUVA Team 29
Students: Kathryn Elizabeth Fowler, Eric Michael Gillwald, Malorie Torrey, Morgan Taylor Stackman, Aneesha Baharani, Andrea Brennan, Rachel Vassar, Parker Sutton, Jonathan Bernard, Isaac Hametz. Faculty Advisor: Michael Petrus.

Best Urban Design & PLANNING

1st PLACE ($500 prize): Belmont UnAbridged – UVA Team 18
Students: Kate Martin, Wyatt Hill, Nell Connors, Charlotte Miller, Jason Truesdale, Joanna McKnight, Madeleine Hawks, Kirsten Sparenborg, Chris Barker, Enrique Cavelier, Meghan Maupin, Rodrick Cruz, Kelly Hitzing, Madeleine Hawks, ARH students: Joanna McKnight, Kirsten Sparenborg. Faculty Advisors: WG Clark + Daniel Bluestone.

2nd PLACE ($300 prize): Bridge over Rubbled Water – UVA Team 21
Students: Alexander Dean Kaplan, Samantha Lynn Weiser, Jamar Dimitri Moore, Timothy James O’Neill, Brittany Olivari, Kelly Pierson, Harriett A Jameson, Benjamin Sessa, Tom Gibbons, David Holzman, Catharine Killien. Faculty Advisor: Lucia Phinney.

3rd PLACE ($200 prize): Gaitway Loop – UVA Team 26
Students: Timothy John Morris, Stephanie Marie Smid, Timothy Edwards, Diana Fang, Hugo Fenaux, John Conroe Spiess, Andrew Brown, Megan Driscoll, Kate Boles. Faculty Advisors: John Quale + Sara Osborne.

Honorable Mention: The Grid, The Flour Mill & The Landscape Line
- UVA Team 17

Students: Mikhail Maclaine Payson , Irene Preciado Arango, Evan Shepherd Burch, Laura Jean Burden, Eduardo Diaz-Etchevehere , Eric Hanna, Brianne Doak, Ryan Lewandowski, Luhan Zhou, Silas Haslam, ARH students: Jessica Lankston, Ryan Van Sickel, Kim Larson. Faculty Advisors: Maurice Cox + Daniel Bluestone.

Honorable Mention: Mini Bridge Mega Connector - UVA Team 11
Students: Christopher Wertman, Lu Xu, Robert Grooms II, Yujing Han, Jude Ghassan Majali, Eric Kuhn, David Matthews, Andrew Milner Katherine Treppendahl, Dasha Lebedeva, Charles Sparkman. Faculty Advisor: Nana Last.

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS

Best BRIDGE Design Award ($150 prize): Belmont UnAbridged – UVA Team 18

 Best URBAN Design Award ($150 prize): Belmont UnAbridged – UVA Team 18

 

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