An eye-popping proposal from OMA — the Rotterdam-headquartered firm founded by Dutch starchitect Rem Koolhaas — in collaboration with Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm OLIN has been announced as the winner in a design competition seeking out the most spectacular/meaningful vision for a neighbor-fusing aerial greenway to be built atop the foundations of a demolished freeway bridge that once spanned the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C.

Dubbed Anacostia Crossing, OMA + OLIN’s park-topped bridge proposal was selected by an esteemed jury of architects, engineers, public health officials and urban planners over three other top contenders conceived by Balmori Associates/Cooper, Robertson & Partners, Wallace Roberts & Todd/NEXT Architects/Magnusson Klemencic Associates and Stoss Landscape Urbanism/ Höweler + Yoon Architecture. Public input from community leaders and the general public also played a crucial role in the selection process.

While the $40 million 11th Street Bridge Park project has garnered a slew of inevitable comparisons to New York’s High Line and been filed away as part of the whole adaptive reuse-minded elevated park craze, as you can see, OMA + OLIN’s winning proposal is an entirely unique — and much wider — creature that, unlike the High Line (aka, the World's Prettiest Conveyor Belt), aims to harmoniously unite two long-isolated D.C. neighborhoods, Capitol Hill and historic Anacostia, instead of gentrify the heck out of them. And while the 11th Street Bridge Park, the show-stopping crown jewel of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, will no doubt lure a decent amount of much-welcomed tourist foot traffic away from the National Mall and environs, it is, above all, a sprawling civic space designed for the enjoyment of D.C. residents.

Anacostia Crossing

OMA + OLIN

All of the proposals entered into the seven-month-long design competition were required to address a quartet of goals: The promotion of environmental stewardship of the polluted/neglected Anacostia River; the stimulation of economic activity and job creation in the neighborhoods along both banks of the river; the encouragement of healthier lifestyles and exercise; and, of course the biggie: the unification of two historically separated neighborhoods.

Remarks Scott Kratz, director of the 11th Street Bridge Park, in a press release issued by the project’s parent organization, the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC):

The OMA + OLIN concept is simply brilliant in the way they captured ideas we heard from residents on both sides of the river and from across the city. These thoughtful designers – some of the best architects and landscape architects in the world — have taken community driven ideas and created a compelling new space that will connect two historically divided parts of the city while adding a new shape to the capital’s iconic monuments.
The releases goes on to note that the proposal for Anacostia Crossing, described by the OMA + Olin design team as a "place of exchange" and a "retreat for residents and a territory for tourists to explore" wasn’t just selected unanimously as the winner by the competition's jury — it was also the favored design amongst a panel of community stakeholders and received the most votes during a public polling period.

Anacostia Crossing

OMA/OLIN

“Our design creates a literal intersection and a dynamic, multi-layered amenity for both sides of the river,” says Jason Long of OMA's New York City-based North American office who served as the partner-in-charge alongside Hallie Boyce of Philadelphia-based OLIN. “It simultaneously functions as a gateway to both sides of the river, a lookout point with expansive views, a canopy that can shelter programs and a public plaza where the two paths meet. The resulting form of the bridge creates an iconic encounter, an 'X' instantly recognizable within the capital’s tradition of civic spaces.”

As evidenced in Anacostia Crossing’s design renderings, the OMA + OLIN team has managed to pack a lot into the park’s distinctive sloping, X-shaped design including a “21st century” children’s playground, a cafe, an environmental education center, a public plaza, an amphitheater, waterfalls, urban farming plots, shaded picnic spots, rain gardens, a sculpture park, interactive art installations, paddle boat and kayak launches and hammocks galore. Frederick Douglass even makes an appearance in this delightful jumble of river-spanning public space.

Scroll down to check out just a few of Anacostia Crossing’s standout features. And don’t start holding your breath quite yet waiting for construction to commence on the park. Twenty-five million dollars for construction costs and an addition $15 million in operations funding needs to be raised before work on Anacostia Crossing begins. As noted by the Washington Post, the D.C. government has stepped up to the plate and committed to footing $14.5 million of the bill.

Anacostia Crossing

OMA

Anacostia Crossing

OMA

Anacostia Crossing

OLIN

Anacostia Crossing

OLIN

Anacostia Crossing

OLIN

Anacostia Crossing

OMA

Anacostia Crossing

OMA

Via [Washington Post]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.