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South Bayfront Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge
Emeryville, California, USA

Emeryville Marina Nature Center
Emeryville, California, USA


In the city of Emeryville, a city of approximately one square mile in area and 8000 residents, at the edge of the San Francisco Bay between Oakland and Berkeley, California, was proposed a new kind of pedestrian bicycle bridge. At a site bordering eight north/south railroad tracks running through the center of town with a large shopping area to the west and a campus of bio-technology buildings on the east side, Tsui Design and Research, Inc. , an architecture firm headed by Dr. Eugene Tsui, proposed a new pedestrian bicycle bridge unlike any bridge in the world. The bridge is much more than a bridge--more than a pass-through to get from one side to another--it is an aesthetic, cultural, educational and social destination for the people of the community.

The bridge structure would be made of structural steel with an iridescent, zinc-coated metal finish that is weather-proof and gives off a multi-colored reflective shimmer. This makes it very easy to clean and maintain. The pedestrian bicycling walkway is made of colored, fly-ash concrete that is textured and gives off no CO2 off gassing to the environment. The concrete floor will have sand blasted poems and special designs to create an ambiance of profound human expression.

The bridge would contain approximately 1400 linear feet of pedestrian/bicycling ramps and 100 linear feet of plaza area where built-in seating and a four-foot-high waterfall and glass-bottom fountain are located. The ramps and plaza are 14 feet wide, with eight feet of width for bicycling and six feet for pedestrians. The pedestrian walkway path is raised six inches higher than the bicycle level. Seating is 14 inches high, and the fountain would have a 12-inch-high seating curb surrounding it. The east side ramps, with a maximum slope of five degrees, contain a 33-foot-diameter ramped loop to comfortably accommodate bicyclists without inhibiting pedestrians. Spotlighted “totems” with unidirectional casing allows light to shine on the bridge without the source being seen by neighbors.

Social Community
The pedestrian bicycle bridge is a place where people congregate. It is a pass-through for persons traveling from two major neighborhoods of Emeryville, the Bay Street shopping area and the Novartis/Pixar office/residential neighborhood. Thousands of persons would cross the bridge at lunch hour and after hours. This makes the bridge a likely gathering destination for people to socialize, sit down for lunch (180 linear feet of built-in seating on the bridge) by the waterfall/fountain, gaze out at the panoramic views to the south and north, or study the “outdoor strolling museum” and the beautiful artistic surface designs and poetry as they pass by. The bridge becomes a social destination, an ambiance of art and inspiration.

Culture/Art ... and Skateboarders
We intend to design the paved surface, built-in seating and railing walls of the bridge in such a way as to be a three-dimensional work of art. From the first entrance area, one side of the bridge wall will be made up of bas relief sculptures, porcelain enamel covered photographs and historical items embedded to give a visual and tactile sense of Emeryville-area history. Original pieces of baskets, fishing spears, arrowheads and pottery would be encased and preserved in ceramic or clear resin. Photographs, pieces of newspapers, ticket stubs, flyers from the past are integrated within the ceramic.
The textured and colored concrete surfaces of the paving could be sandblasted to create intricate designs and reflective words of poetry. These rough paving surfaces deter skateboarders. The serrated-edge seating is comfortable for seated visitors but impossible for skateboarding.

History and Education
Emeryville has a fascinating history and the area has historical artifacts and information that take us back centuries in time. That distinctive history ought to be a feature of the bridge. The bridge is an opportunity for thousands of people a day to learn about Emeryville’s past and to put the present and future into perspective. We propose to have an outdoor historic museum as a permanent feature of the bridge, telling the stories of life 500 to 1000 years ago to the present day, through “day-in-the-life” vignettes to give visitors a real sense of life in those times.
The remarkable stories of the past century, the Shellmound Amusement Park, the New California Jockey Club, Double Steam Motor Company, the Greyhound Racing Track, the Emeryville Speed Racing track, the Oaks Ball Park and many other historical places and events would be included in a kind of stroll through history of the area.
We have had discussions with Emeryville artist/sculptor Mr. Scott Donahue and with Superintendent of the Emeryville School District, Dr. Tony Smith, who have both given conceptual and logistical scenarios regarding how the outdoor museum could be a part of the school curriculum whereby students and teachers help local artists with creating this exhibit/museum and work with the community to determine events that would be preserved forever on the bridge as a permanent record of Emeryville’s future. The bridge then might hold an annual event of installing the new portions of the museum, preserving Emeryville’s present and future.

The bridge structure itself is an educative device for showing visitors how the stress and strain of a structure works. Every aspect of the bridge is meant to reveal itself to demonstrate its intrinsic tension and dynamics. Even the cables would be anchored in such a way that visitors can sit next to them and touch them really getting a feeling of how the bridge works. In this light, the bridge is not just a big structure to pass over, it is a work of art to learn from, to understand something extraordinary. Dr. Tony Smith, Superintendent of the Emeryville Unified School District has stated that he would develop programs for students and teachers to research and monitor the bioremediation aspects of the bridge and to study its renewable energy and engineering features. The bridge becomes an educative destination for everyone.

Renewable Energy
A series of photovoltaic solar panels at the top of the bridge parabola create 10,000 watts of renewable electricity. A lateral bank of windmills can also be placed onto the apex of the parabola to produce another 20,000 watts of renewable electricity. A portion of the electricity powers the lights of the bridge and the landscaped park and street areas. The residual electricity could be sold back to the state’s utility grid by the City of Emeryville. A times sprinkler system at the surface of the PV panels would prevent dirt and soot buildup an preserve maximum solar exposure.

The bridge contains a plant-based bioremediation system where rainwater is directed through specially designed swales that guide water through a plant filtration strip on the bridge. Rainwater is filtered and cleaned before flowing into Temescal Creek, and from there into San Francisco Bay, as clean water. Thus, the bridge is a water-cleaning device for the public to see and experience. We are also researching materials that would prevent soot-staining of the bridge over time.

Civic Aspirations
The South Bayfront Pedestrian Bicycle Bridge is an acknowledgment of Emeryville’s past, an affirmation of Emeryville’s present and a catalyst for its future. It is an expression of a community that is informed by issues of ecological sustainability, social leadership and civic vision. This project sets a precedent a bold and relevant statement of a city and its council that took up the challenge to reach high and take a step forward, to show that Emeryville is a city where community initiative and civic leadership can create vitality and imagination that enriches its citizens and shows them the possibilities of a creative future.



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