Archilier Architecture
Cleveland, United States
Project Year

Archilier Architecture wins the 2012 Cleveland Design Competition

Archilier Architecture as Architects

2012 Cleveland Design Competition - Overview The Detroit-Superior Bridge, almost a mile long, is one of the most prominent features of Cleveland’s urban landscape. Built in 1918, its upper level is one of the heaviest used thoroughfares in Cleveland today and it connects Ohio City and downtown Cleveland. The bridge’s lower level, built for street cars, has been abandoned since 1954. It is a vast, cathedral-like space that includes subterranean subway stations at either end. An open-air span over the river provides unmatched views of the downtown skyline, the city’s industrial valley and Lake Erie. The two ends of The Bridge include vestiges of the former streetcar stations including stairwells and tunnels, colonnades and waiting spaces and segments of track. The lower level currently opens several times a year for tours and large-scale, weekend-long performance and arts festivals, drawing crowds of more than 40,000 people of all ages and backgrounds. The Bridge offers tremendous potential for use as a dynamic public space, performance venue, and sheltered bicycle/pedestrian connection over the Cuyahoga River. The competitions calls for designs that provide creative place-making in Cleveland and provide innovative ideas for a world-class public space, offering compelling visions for the permanent use of The Bridge, public access into and passage through the lower level of The Bridge, and connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods.

Archilier Architecture - Winning Design Scheme:

Titled Bridgewalk, Archilier’s winning design scheme is about making strong urban connections and creating great public places for Cleveland city residents. Archilier did not treat the bridge just as a landmark structure only, but as one of Cleveland’s most important urban ligaments, connecting Downtown Cleveland and Ohio City with key nodes like Terminal Tower, pro sports venues, transportation, the river, and nearby parks. Bridgewalk transforms and enlivens this vital connective tissue by inhabiting it with a variety of year-round activities. Archilier connected the bridge with its urban fabric not only horizontally (5 distinct zones) but also vertically (3 strata).

Three strata / Five zones: Skywalk A continuous pedestrian pathway, beginning at the river’s edge, climbs through the bridge structure emerging at the crest of the arch to enjoy spectacular views of downtown Cleveland and Lake Superior. The Skywalk links all five lateral Bridgewalk zones with the planned Cuyahoga Towpath Trail.

Bridgewalk The bridge’s undercarriage is divided into 5 lateral zones:

1. West Catacombs: Character: dark, heavy concrete, introverted, “industrial chic/hip” with existing streetcar rails Use: train museum, art galleries, shops. 2. West Concourse: Character: open-air concrete arches, adjacent to residential neighborhood. Drawing inspiration from Ponte Vecchio of Florence, we arranged retail shops along the outer sides of the bridge at the western side but intentionly switched them to the interior as one approaches the middle of the bridge section, thus affording visitors spectacular views of the surrounding cityscape while shopping or taking a stroll with their coffee in hand. Use: small shops, pocket parks, observation & performance platform 3. Central Span: Character: a crystalline prism suspended above the Cuyahoga beneath the existing span The Central Span is the climax of the bridge, with “Skywalk” soaring above the bridge and the street “Theater” hanging below. Use: an urban street theater with amazing river views supporting both impromptu and scheduled performances. 4. East Concourse: Character: open-air arches redux; longer than west concourse & close to downtown. We inserted a narrow, minimalist, glass-box linking the Bridgewalk with the riverfront, creating a series of dynamic platforms. Use: art galleries, food & beverage venues, community rooms 5. East Pools: Character: dark & secretive, near downtown’s warehouse district Use: night clubs, bars, & lounges New bicycle and pedestrian ramps connect Bridgewalk with the upper roadway New elevators and stairs connect Bridgewalk with the riverfront

River walk Innovative landscapes below the East Concourse – an outdoor theater, Riverfront Park, viewing platforms, and farmers market – make connections with Settlers’ Landing Park, the Cuyahoga River, and future riverfront development.

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