“Crossing the Pell” – The students started by creating a 3D model of the structure of the existing bridge. Photo by Jo Sittenfeld MFA 08 PH / Courtesy of RISD INT | Ar
The arguments for increased accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists are a hot topic. While public access and mobility in urban landscapes also involve factors related to public policies and town planning, eight interior design students from RISD (RISD Int | AR) were faced with the challenge of ” discuss ways to improve an iconic Rhode Island bridge.
For their “Crossing the Pell” project, a group of graduate students developed a design proposal that draws attention to the pedestrian and cycling routes to Pell Bridge, an iconic suspension bridge connecting Newport and Jamestown, RI.
“Crossing the Pell” is just one of many projects produced by students of RISD’s Int | AR program that aims to elevate the use and application of adaptive reuse techniques and community engagement. To learn more about this work, Archinect explores the project and the immersive in-person exhibit that took place in August.
* The RISD Interior Architecture Department’s Adaptive Reuse Masters Program is a one-year post-professional degree that allows architects to focus on the reuse of structures. The Spring Adaptive Reuse Studio and associated Adaptive Reuse Seminar is the highlight of the program.
This year’s Crossing the Pell studio is co-taught by Michael Grugl, Andrew Hartness, Wolfgang Rudorf and Liliane Wong.
Our goal was to help the audience acclimatize to something new by using virtual reality to create an immersive 3D experience. – Liliane Wong
The iconic bridge was completed in 1969 and renamed Claiborne Pell Bridge in honor of longtime Rhode Island State Senator Claiborne de Borda Pell. The massive steel-framed suspension of the bridge, which connects Jamestown and Newport, is 2.1 miles long and rises to a peak that reaches 400 feet above the water. This structural feat allowed Navy aircraft carriers to pass under the platform below. It also allowed motorists crossing the bridge to enjoy a wonderful view of Narragansett Bay.
However, on the bridge’s 50th anniversary, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and other local government leaders asked if access to the bridge could be improved not only for pedestrians and cyclists, but by diverting access. on the Newport side of the bridge.
This investigation led Liliane Wong, RISD Int | AR department head and graduate studio instructor, to challenge her students and their real-life adaptive reuse applications. “Proposing a change to an icon like the Pell Bridge is difficult,” she explained. “Our goal was to help the audience acclimatize to something new by using virtual reality to create an immersive 3D experience.” With the guidance of Professor Wong, along with faculty members Michael Grugl, Andrew Hartness and Wolfgang Rudorf, eight graduate students have developed a way to cope with these changes.
A bridge of possibilities
Eight students graduating from the masters and masters program at RISD formed two interdisciplinary teams that helped develop design strategies that not only provided increased access and usability, but also implemented improved public spaces. To do this, the students addressed several factors. From wind conditions, sea level rise, and achievable building materials, students developed a comprehensive design strategy to address a design that incorporates social equity, feasibility, and responsible environmental impacts.
Students Demi Okunfulure and Mohan Wang proposed a system that “would harness solar and wind energy via photovoltaic and piezoelectric components to power bridge lights as well as 275 homes.” They explained that this method was a “holistic approach to the future of bridge design that captures energy through infrastructure”.
Students Nupoor Maduskar and Yu Xiao focused on the region’s historic fisheries. They developed the idea of creating a floating fish market and a series of “floating eco-islands along the span that would create new habitats for fish and stimulate a new kind of fishing tourism. The project pays homage to to the state’s fishing economy by incorporating an architectural vocabulary of nets that play with natural elements such as light, wind and gravity. ”
Hoping to boost the local economy, students Saira Margarita Paz Nepomuceno and Seung Hwan Oh come up with a tourism-focused design strategy that includes a visitor center, “mooring points for sailboats and a spectacular open-air theater on the deck visible from a new amphitheater. ” At the same time, students Sofia Paez and Shuyi Guan approached high winds with “a closed 3D printed structure of carbon fiber and wrapped in a translucent composite membrane”.
Experience change through an immersive exhibition
Last May, the design studio presented its proposed design ideas to the Whitehouse team in an immersive experience using cardboard VR glasses and Pano software. This overview of the bridge’s design possibilities enabled the students to receive funding from the Champlin Foundation. This funding allowed the studio to showcase their work and in an immersive exhibition in August.
“Whatever the long-term outcome of their proposals, I couldn’t be more proud of the students in this class,” Wong said, discussing the exhibit and its community reception. The aim of the exhibit was to provide local citizens and government leaders with details and visual resources where proposed design elements could be considered and implemented. “As the culminating learning experience of a post-professional program, the studio supports RISD’s commitment to sustainability – a pillar of our strategic plan – and has pushed them to consider real-life parameters such as that communities divided by economic disparities, the threat of sea level rise and the positive and negative effects of tourism on the city. These are exactly the types of problems that successful professionals face in practice. ”
To learn more about RISD’s Int | AR program and offerings, click here.