11th Street Bridge Park: An Intersection of Health and Place

Written by Scott Kratz

Last night, several dozen residents from across the city gathered at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health to brainstorm ways the 11th Street Bridge Park can become the healthiest new civic space in the nation’s capital. The program began with an interactive presentation on health and place by Autumn Saxon-Ross, Project Director of Place Matters at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. I then gave a quick overview as we work to create DC’s first elevated park over the Anacostia River.

Then came the fun part. I asked participants to brainstorm ideas on ways to incorporate health concepts into the design and programming of the 11th Street Bridge Park. I was truly humbled by the creative ideas which ranged from the practical (don’t forget shade!) to the imaginative (add glass flooring to see kayakers on the river!)  You’ll find a list of their ideas below.

Thank you to everyone who came out on a snowy March night to give their energy, passion and enthusiasm. The community is helping shape this future civic space. A special thank you to the wonderful staff at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Total Health for hosting us in their beautiful space – Ted Eytan, Keith Montgomery, Erin Meade and Yen Greene – you’re the best!

Keep the great ideas coming…

Scott Kratz, 11th Street Bridge Park Director

PS – see more images of the event here.

Ideas to Consider During the Design of the 11th Street Bridge Park

  • It is important to ensure the 11th Street Bridge Park is deeply connected to both sides of the river
  • Incorporate universal design principles to ensure the 11th Street Bridge Park is welcoming to visitors of all ages and abilities – this includes signage, lighting, slope, road conditions, sidewalk and material selection
  • Make lots of comfortable spaces for visitors to sit and relax
  • Provide shade!
  • Visitors should be able get down to the water level, but ensure that is accessible for all
  • Install trash-catching system upstream to help clean the Anacostia River
  • Include interactive water features encouraging physical activity
  • Could you enter the park through a rock climbing wall?
  • Connect to the existing river walk trail system
  • Use structural glass to see the river / kayakers / canoes below the bridge
  • Create more “curious spaces” for visitors of all ages to explore!

On-going programming once the 11th Street Bridge Park is constructed

  • Don’t over-program the space – let the park’s use grow over time
  • Don’t forget natural elements – trees, plants, flowers!
  • Spaces should be multi-purpose
  • At the environmental education center, monitor water quality, educate about fish and other fauna (turtles, beavers, etc.) and demonstrate the importance of storm water management.
  • Host regular river clean up events including children and their families from local schools
  • Kayak / canoe / paddleboat rentals on the river below
  • Engage the fit bit community
  • Rent a fishing rod stations
  • In addition to trash cans, add receptacles collecting recyclable materials
  • Ranger led fitness events – hikes, kayaks, etc.
  • Wildlife viewing areas with viewfinders / binoculars
  • Ensure lighting for aesthetics and safety
  • The performance spaces could pay tribute to DC greats such as Chuck Brown or Marvin Gaye