LMN Architects recently completed two new pedestrian and bicycle bridges in Washington State, which the firm hopes will contribute to the regeneration, wellbeing, and vitality of the Pacific Northwest while elevating the social experience for the citizens of each community. A noble intent based on the idea of bridging a gap between communities is Seattle and Spokane.
The University District Gateway Bridge in Downtown Spokane bridges the gap between the University District and the east Sprague neighborhood. The dual-span bridge crosses over the BNSF railway and East Martin Luther King Jr. Way, generating new connections within the local community and fostering new development in the traditionally underserved Sprague neighborhood.
The 450-foot span bridge was inspired by traditional railyard bridges, while the 120-foot tall concrete arch creates an icon and new landmark on Spokane’s skyline. The bridge deck is suspended from the arch with thick steel cables and strong connectors, creating a visual counterpoint to the graceful curve of the bone-white arch. The 10-foot-high throw barrier, required by the railroad, completes the composition with built-in pathway lighting. At night, four large floodlights and a programmable color changing LED system illuminate the structure, enhancing its visibility throughout the city.
Near Seattle, the Tukwila Urban Center Bridge is adjacent to Bicentennial Park and crosses the Green River in Tukwila, a suburban city bordering Seattle on the north. The river flows out of the Cascade Mountains and is important for salmon spawning. It has traditionally been a tribal fishing river in the Pacific Northwest. The bridge has been designed to celebrate the history of the river, protect the local natural habitat, and create a new pedestrian connection between the commercial district in the west and the eastern part of the city.
The 220-foot structure was inspired by tribal canoes and is defined by the 45-foot high bowstring arch and 16-foot wide concrete deck. On the edges of the crossing path, the bridge dematerializes and opens to the water flowing below with stainless steel grills used to reduce shade and open the surface to sunlight. This design element follows the natural flow of the river and is important in creating a bright, welcoming habitat for salmon to swim downstream to the Pacific Ocean. The bridge is illuminated with LED lighting that can be modulated in different colors and light levels, creating a dynamic play of color.
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