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An example of what a design competition produces - Why not a design competition for a new approach to MP downtown parking?

From: domainremoved <Peter>
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2015 13:50:51 -0500

Bike bridge designs wow planning commissioners
Design competition nets three different visions for Highway 101 overpass

by Gennady Sheyner <http://www.paloaltoonline.com/about/contact/mailto.php?e=gsheyner>/ Palo Alto Weekly

Jurors of Palo Alto's Adobe Creek bridge competition chose as a close second the gently curving bridge designed by Moffatt and Nichol, Steven Grover and Associates, Lutsko Associates, JIRI Strasky, Mark Thomas and Co.
 <http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_photo.php?main_id=35857&type=p&media_id=40257&section_id=1> <http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_photo.php?main_id=35857&type=p&media_id=40258&section_id=1>
One cries for attention with its prominent red arch and a row of changing lights. The other is an understated ribbon that tries to blend into the Baylands. The third is inspired by a kayak, even though it's meant for bicycles.

The designs offer starkly different visions for Palo Alto's "iconic" new bike bridge, the subject of a recent design competition, but the city's Planning and Transportation Commission agreed on Wednesday night that any of the three would represent a big win for the city.

"I think it's hard to go wrong with either of the choices," Commissioner Michael Alcheck said during Wednesday's discussion of the new bike bridge.

"I think we have three awesome bridges here," concurred acting commission Chair Adrien Fine vat the end of the discussion. "Palo Alto would be lucky to have any of them."

The three finalists were chosen out of a pool of 20 proposals that the city received as part of its design competition for a bridge that would span U.S. Highway 101 at Adobe Creek, giving south Palo Alto residents year-round access to the Baylands.

On Dec. 17, 2014, a jury chose as the winner the boldest and loudest of the three the arch concept proposed by HNTB Engineering, 64North, Bionic Landscape Architecture and Ned Kahn. The jury agreed that this design comes the closest of the three to achieving the City Council's stated goal of creating a prominent landmark structure that would serve as a gateway to the city.

The final choice will be made by the council, which will consider the jury's recommendation in late February. And while the planning commission waxed ecstatically about all three designs, members refrained from taking strong stances in favor of any of the three.

Instead, the general consensus was that despite their stark differences, any of the three would make for a proud addition to Palo Alto. Only Alcheck expressed an opinion about his preferred choice, giving the nod to the subtlest of the three proposals: the ribbon-like bridge designed by Moffat and Nichol, Steven Grover and Associates, Lutsko Associates, JIRI Strasky and Mark Thomas and Co.

Fine, who last week was elected vice chair and who ran the meeting in the absence of newly elected Chair Greg Tanaka, offered words of high praise for all three proposals. He was a bit puzzled, however, by the kayak shape of the design proposed by Endrestudio, OLIN, SBP and Biohabitats.

"It might not come across as a bike bridge – the fact that it's imitating a kayak," Fine said. "It's nice to know a bike bridge is a bike bridge."

Roy Snyder, a bicyclists and birder who lives in the Palo Verde neighborhood, made a pitch for keeping things simple and focusing on the bridge's function rather than the frills. The overcrossing, he said, "is the means, not a destination, nor the attraction itself."

"Nor should it be a distraction from the natural Baylands environment," Snyder said. "The Baylands are where the action is. The Baylands is where we want to go. We want to get there as expeditiously and easily as possible."

Commissioner Mark Michael expressed similar leanings. He called all the designs "impressive" but wondered if the HNTB design, known as "Confluence" is a little "too grandiose" and suggested that there might be a benefit to having a bridge that is simpler and has a lower profile.

"I do like the arch but I'm worried that it's gonna be quite the landmark," Michael said.

But after calling both the arch and the Moffat and Nichol proposals "impressive and inspiring," he concluded that they'd "both be terrific for different reasons."

"It's a shame there has to be a winner and someone who doesn't win," Michael said. "But whoever gets the second place, maybe that bridge should be considered for the span between Town & Country and Paly."

He wasn't the only one who struggled to pick a favorite. Judith Wasserman, a former member of the Architectural Review Board and chair of the jury that selected the arch proposal, said she was "blown away by how beautiful and poetic all of these were."

The decision, she said, was very difficult to make. Ultimately, the jury went with the arch so as to best comply with the council's hunger for a prominent icon. The subtlest design finished second in the voting and the kayak third.

"That's what most people who preferred the arch said that you will see this more than the other bridge," Wasserman said. "The other bridge was very elegant, structurally amazing, and looked like it was self supporting. We looked for sky hooks and didn't see them."

But much like the planning commission, Wasserman had nothing but love for all three bridges.

"I personally felt that you can close your eyes and throw darts and come out good," she said.


 +  <> 2 people like thisPosted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
11 hours ago
Why isn't there any mention of the cost of any of these bridges or the length of time it might take to build them?

The subtlest design is by far the best. It is a bridge and it should be invisible to drivers as they shouldn't be distracted by any imposing design.

Lastly, was there any mention of a suicide barrier, or is that not a pc thing to ask?

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 +  <> 3 people like thisPosted by pedestrian
a resident of South of Midtown
11 hours ago
Don't drag the construction process out any longer than necessary. Just built it and people will come. The existing path is closed right now and the detour over Hwy 101 at San Antonio Road is a death trap, especially during the evening rush hour.

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 +  <> 1 person likes thisPosted by Prefer low-key
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
11 hours ago
Lots of imaginative and creative designs. But I don't care for the huge arch, it is so grandiose for a short bridge, and a dangerous distraction to drivers below. We have enough look-at-me structures in town.
I vote for restrained, low key elegance.

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
10 hours ago
I would rather see us buy the Fry's space and turn it into a park and maker space, or buy the Maybell orchard. (Can you believe the meeting to show people what will go there is going to be across town at Cubberly since there are no city buildings over there, right in the middle of all those schools.) Of course, the city council then could have gotten the Maybell orchard for free. Because of that, this thing is just a slap. Where are our priorities? What of the public safety building?

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by Commenter
a resident of Old Palo Alto
4 hours ago
I initially agreed with most other commenters and preferred the low-profile bridge from solely the 3 images posted here. But from seeing other angles and point-of-views (Web Link <http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/gov/topics/projects/facilities/bridge_project/default.asp>) I now prefer the cathedral bridge. The low-profle bridge isn't actually simple and minimalist in the details - there's a lot going on in the design and may feel dated in the near future. Although, I am wary of the shimmering art pieces on the cables of the cathedral bridge and possible distractions to drivers it can cause.

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
3 hours ago
Just build it already. Undercost estimates.

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 +  <> 1 person likes thisPosted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
3 hours ago
Will the city ask for bids on all three designs? Shouldn't cost be part of the decision? In fact, shouldn't a "plain" design also be submitted for bid?

I do not this to turn into the Jerry Brown / Willie Brown Bay Bridge fiasco Part II.

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by Simple is better
a resident of Palo Verde School
2 hours ago
I liked the simple sweeping nature of the second place entry.

The bridge should join and melt the two sides of 101 together.

The arch is way too gaudy.

The kayak is inscrutable...more like WTF than poetry.

My humble opinion.

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by Jean
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
1 hour ago
I really like that the arch bridge has some sections along the bridge that separate bicyclists from pedestrians. Some pedestrians may have large groups, such as school kids on a field trip to the Baylands, and having some points along the bridge route where pedestrians can enjoy their time without having to worry about their safety of passing bicyclists seems to be a positive.

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by green space
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
1 hour ago
Pity no one thought to emulate "The Garden Bridge" Web Link <http://www.gardenbridgetrust.org/index.html> This would be the perfect location for a similar enterprise and in keeping with Palo Alto's "green credentials"

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 +  <> Like this commentPosted by Anon
a resident of Stanford
12 minutes ago
Liz Kniss's vision seems to be coming to fruition. I wonder what she would have done if she were spending her own money. Build a bridge if you must - and there are good reasons for doing so - but show a little restraint. Go for function over glitz. Even better, start over with a smaller budget and see what you get. It may be really nice!

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 Peter Carpenter
Received on Thu Jan 15 2015 - 10:45:08 PST

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