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Friday, September 27, 2013

Transforming the Old Bay Bridge Into a Park for Adventure Tourists | Gizmodo


Now that the new Bay Bridge is here, what to do with the old one...? Is the slow and expensive demolition of the iconic structure really the best or even most cost-effective answer? A handful of local proposals have emerged, both earnest and speculative, hoping to find perhaps at least some useful future for the now obsolete mega-span, currently just a ruin strung uselessly through the air.
The Bridge should be broken up and incorporated into local housing, some say; others, like architects Ron Rael and Virginia San Fratello, think the Bridge should instead be seismically stabilized, retrofit with clusters of smaller buildings, and converted into a public park.
Transforming the Old Bay Bridge Into a Park for Adventure Tourists
Transforming the Old Bay Bridge Into a Park for Adventure Tourists
Transforming the Old Bay Bridge Into a Park for Adventure Tourists3
Indeed, several years ago, Rael San Fratello, as their office is called, released a series of images intended not as actual design proposals for the future of the Bay Bridge, but as somewhat tongue-in-cheek conversation starters: they depicted the Bridge refit with climbing walls, bike paths, outdoor cinemas, hotel rooms, and more, with single pedestrians, groups, and families all milling about on the broad and picturesque platforms over the Bay, drinking wine, listening to music, and throwing frisbees. (Check out this PDF for more).
It was an architectural vision like something out of William Gibson's novel Virtual Light—updated with copious middle class comforts—where the Bay Bridge, Stephenson writes, has become a kind of temporary autonomous zone in the sky, elevated outside the world and in between political jurisdictions.
But reusing the Bridge—or, rather, exactly how this reuse should occur—has been a hot topic for years; at the time of Rael San Fratello's first images, a parallel, unconnected design studio was also being taught at UC Berkeley's architecture school by Fred Schwartz and Marc L'Italien, exploring the exact same idea. Could—or even should—architects come up with a convincing alternative future for the famous Bridge? Is simply removing it without considering other options a wasted opportunity?

[Keep reading at Gizmodo]

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