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Friday, May 22, 2009

Architects Warn Altered Bridge Design Will Trigger "Coming Battle"

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Remember this beautiful Willamette bridge design architect Miguel Rosales unveiled at city hall in April?

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Well now architecture blogs have sounded the alarm that lead architect Miguel Rosales will no longer be involved with the new Willamette bridge project. TriMet chose a different contractor to take over the next phase of the project, which Portland Spaces writer Tim DuRoche worries means the innovative design will be canned for a cheaper, cookie-cutter option bridge. "Will it be a faint shadow of Rosales’ intentions?" asks DuRoche. "Will it be a less-inspired “low-cost aesthetic alternative” like everyone’s also-ran choice, the cable-stay."

Perhaps invigorated by the Coliseum success, Brian Libby at Portland Architecture echoes the concerns and issues a warning: "If this news is true, Trimet should anticipate an avalanche of anger, disappointment, and a coming battle."

Rosales's white cable bridges are iconic in cities across America and (especially with the fat monstrosity slated for the Columbia). Even back at the unveiling last month, bridge advisory group members worried that budget concerns would trump good design.

TriMet spokeswoman Mary Fetsch says not to worry. Rosales was selected to do the bridge study and help determine a bridge type, she explains. "That work is complete and we're now moving into a more advanced and detailed design phase with a different architect." The new architect is Donald MacDonald, whose lengthy portfolio includes more conventional works than Rosales'. Fetsch promises the bridge will not be a "cookie cutter" design - only two bridge designs are currently on the table, the hybrid one above and one with a similar look (below the cut).

The bridge advisory group votes to go forward with one of two designs next Thursday. The first design, above, is the "hybrid" option unveiled in April. This is the second - a refined cable bridge.

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