LMN Architects celebrates the completion of two new pedestrian and bicycle bridges in Spokane and Tukwila, Washington. The projects aspire to contribute to the regeneration, wellbeing, and vitality of the Pacific Northwest, elevating the social experience for the citizens of each community.
The new University District Gateway Bridge is located in Downtown Spokane, 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.
Howard Fitzpatrick, Principal, comments: “One of the great things about public infrastructure projects is that they benefit the entire public. The Gateway Bridge will make a real difference in the lives of many people in Spokane, and the enthusiastic public reception of the project has been very rewarding for the design team.”
The robust details of the 450-foot span bridge were inspired by traditional railyard bridges, while the 120-foot tall concrete arch establishes the bridge as an icon and significant new landmark on Spokane’s skyline. The bridge deck is suspended from the arch with thick steel cables and stout connectors, creating a visual counterpoint to the graceful curve of the bone-white arch. The sturdy 10-foot-high throw barrier, required by the railroad, completes the composition with built-in pathway lighting. At night, four large floodlights and the programmable color changing LED system illuminate the iconic structure, enhancing its visibility from throughout the city.
The bridge is anchored on the north by a spiral ramp and grand stair connecting to a new Washington State University campus promenade, and on the south by a lower ramp and stair, providing access to South Sherman St., Sprague Avenue and beyond. The ramps and stairs allow for separate parallel routes for pedestrian and cyclists at the landings, while the main span combines travel modes with clear sightlines and generous width.
Walt Niehoff, Design Partner, comments: “Starting with our initial mission of linking the north and south side of the University District of Spokane, the project grew into much more, producing a significantly positive effect on the community and the neighborhood as a whole. We are proud to have worked on such an important part of the development of the City of Spokane.”
The University District Gateway Bridge and plazas at the north and south create a new civic space connecting the north and south parts of the University District, spurring economic growth on the south side of the tracks and linking the university with housing and retail opportunities. The bridge is a symbol of urban revitalization and regeneration of this important neighborhood for the citizens of Spokane.
The new Tukwila Urban Center Bridge is adjacent to Bicentennial Park and crosses the Green River in Tukwila, a suburban city bordering Seattle at its northern edge. The watercourse flows out of the Cascade Mountains through communities in Washington state, and is important for salmon spawning and 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 form of the 220-foot structure was inspired by tribal canoes and is defined by the 45-foot high bowstring arch and the 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 enhances the natural flow of the river and is important in creating a bright, welcoming habitat for salmon to swim downstream on their journey to the Pacific Ocean, where they grow to become adults.
The simple form of the bridge reflects a balance between the human scale and the scale of the city, establishing a monumental presence that creates a new sense of place along the Green River Trail. The bridge is illuminated with LED lighting that can be modulated in different colors and light levels, creating a dynamic play of color.
Howard Fitzpatrick, Principal, comments: “Tukwila wanted their new pedestrian bridge to be more than a convenient way to get across the Green River; they wanted an icon to represent their city’s growth and vitality. We are honored to have had the opportunity to give form to their aspirations.”
The new Tukwila Urban Center Bridge conveys simplicity, clarity, and lightness. Moreover, the project is key to implementing the land use and transportation goals of the Tukwila Urban Center Plan and creates a safe and enjoyable walking and biking experience for the Tukwila community.
Walt Niehoff, Design Partner, comments: “We have had the honor to work on the new University District Gateway Bridge and the Tukwila Urban Center Bridge for almost ten years, and we are proud to contribute to the regeneration and vitality of each community with two projects that are open, unique and accessible to each locality. These projects reflect our design philosophy and aspire to elevate the social experience for all the residents and visitors.”
LMN Architects has worked in 34 States as well as locations in Canada, and is a leader in the tools of architectural practice required to produce projects that support smart, sustainable, cities. The firm has successfully completed more than 700 projects across North America, including the double LEED Platinum Vancouver Convention Centre West in Vancouver, Canada; Cleveland Convention Center & Civic Core in Cleveland, Ohio; Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas; and the Voxman Music Building at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. The firm’s ongoing dedication to communities at all scales is underscored by its important, iconic work across Washington state and beyond.