Pedestrian Bridge, Rhode Island

A curved and stepped wood-covered Pedestrian bridge to link two parks in Providence, Rhode Island.

Spanning 394 feet (120 metres), the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge connects new green spaces on the east and west sides of the city’s riverfront. The design also incorporates five existing piers along the Providence River. Built with a steel superstructure, the curvaceous form is clad in modular panels of Wana wood, also known as Red Louro. In addition to its durability and resistance to rot, the South American hardwood was chosen for its use in boat building to evoke Providence’s maritime past.

With modern innovations, this exceptionally versatile material was used to capture formal characteristics reminiscent of historical ships while simultaneously transitioning into an innovative contemporary solution. Using parametric tools to develop the internal structure for each panel, the team was able to modularise the larger system for efficiency while preserving the unique form and outer surface curves. The prefabricated design was chosen to help with long-term maintenance and enable access to the steel structure if needed. The result accelerated the production schedule and reduced material waste and costs. The bridge’s form is stepped to create a lower level that is closer to the water. It faces south and features plantings and wide steps that double as seating. On the east side of the bridge, a pathway splits in directions towards James Street and Transit Street.

The west side of the bridge joins a 4.5-acre (1.8-hectare) green space and Providence’s Innovation and Design District, a development underway by Wexford Science and Technology and includes a new building, Point225, that houses Brown University’s School of Professional Studies. As a part of the Waterfront Park Master Plan, the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge had a significant responsibility to unify the East and West Park spaces into an integrated public environment synthesising both urban and natural conditions.