The Summer Footbridge Begins

Build Lightly instructor Miriam Gee is teaching along Asheville Design Center (ADC) instructor Luke W. Perry in a ten week-long, six unit course, designing and building a footbridge in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC. We have ten students from South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, and Taiwan. Skill sets range from woodworking, community planning, landscape architecture, architecture, building sciences, sustainable design, and architectural history.

Check out the gallery below for photos from our first event, the River Arts District SpeakUP – on May 31, 2013.  Hit us up this summer if you’re in town, want to volunteer your time, materials, or give money to the construction of the footbridge! The ADC is a non-profit organization.

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Here’s a little more about the ADC DesignBuild Studio from their website…

The Asheville DesignBuild Studio, a program of the Asheville Design Center, is a multi-disciplinary, hands-on, educational experience. Participants will have the opportunity to affect a lasting and positive impact on Asheville’s vibrant and diverse communities. Individuals will come together as a team, draw upon their wide range of design and technical disciplines to gather community comments, define a project type, design and develop the concept, and build their design. The DesignBuild Studio addresses issues of social justice, community sustainability and good design, not simply by watching, but by doing.

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After only one week of class, the Asheville DesignBuild students have come a long way! The preliminary design of this year’s project – a pedestrian footbridge that connects Jean Webb Park to the southeast side of the French Broad River – will be a precedent for all future development of greenways in the next five to ten years. Here are some shots from the two-day design charrette/all day brain dump:
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Here’s a quick snapshot of the design concepts that were developed as a group:

  • Steel beam structure with timber and wood framing above
  • “Ribcage” elements repeated and truncated along to create a guard rail on the east side
  • Bench/seating area that “grows” from the landscape into the bridge
  • Straight edge along the west guard rail, diagonals and movement along the east
  • Orient seating towards views of the French Broad River and Smokestack
  • Free standing seating, amphitheater seating, ha-has, connecting to future greenway
  • Integrating art from local artists into bridge
  • Non-slip materials for the decking
  • Installation of sound or music element activated as pedestrians cross the bridge
  • Mosaic or historic mural on bridge pylons at the north side of the site

We wrapped it all up with reviews from local engineers, architects, city planners, and landscape architects for the May 31st River Arts District SpeakUP. The event was held at the site, and the purpose was to gather feedback from the community. Our public engagement team worked hard to create an “Inspiration Flood” and colorful post-its to get feedback on the design from locals. The two other teams explored two different approaches in sketch model form. We were even featured on the local news! Our next deadline is June 17th, when we submit to the city for permit.

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