The first time I heard about the 11th Street Bridge Park project was a post on Facebook that popped up in the sidebar. That comes to no surprise to me since I’ve always been attracted both design and the natural environment. The two constantly compete for my attention, forcing me to answer questions like, “Should I go a talk about the rise of modernist architecture or attend a Sweep the Creek event?” I have come to the realization that I can’t pick one, and I don’t think I should have to.
The Bridge Park, which aims for completion in 2018, is unique not only due to its design, but also because it merges both design and the environment with a grassroots approach; that is to say it is a community-based project. Its fundamental purpose is to foster the growth of the communities on either side of the Anacostia and make them active members in design and construction decisions.
The Bridge Park has led an extensive outreach effort involving over 500 meetings with community stakeholders which intensified my interest in the project. Often large-scale public use spaces don’t truly involve the user into the design process. This can lead to inefficient designs that don’t reflect the visitors’ needs. I really appreciate the Bridge Park’s community driven strategy because, in the process of improving the design with the help of the people who will actually visit the Bridge Park, this builds excitement for such a forward-thinking project.
Coming back home to D.C. after my first year at Cornell University, a place where, whether you like it to or not, you will develop a love for nature, I have realized that I had taken all the greenery that surrounded me for granted. As a new member of the 11th Street Bridge Park team, I feel like I’m doing my part in helping residents appreciate the landscape that surrounds them as they commute back and forth to their jobs and other engagements.
I see the Bridge Park as a place that brings people to come together and learn about the physical as well as natural environments in both active and passive ways, so I’m very excited that I’ll be helping bring the project to fruition!