BR_DGE | 3rd Ward Reunification Complex | Houston, TX | Fall 2018
Separation vs. connection. This project seeks to reunify the historically disconnected 3rd Ward neighborhood of Houston with the city center. Based on socioeconomic division, the 3rd Ward has been isolated from the city for decades, especially with the imposition of HWY 288. This study provides a potential solution to bridge the gap between the two communities and revive the once vibrant 3rd Ward.
The project started with the proposal of an overall urban project that sought to connect the two neighborhoods through an urban garden system. After analysis on the availability of fresh foods, it was determined that the 3rd Ward was in a food desert. Thus the idea of forming dedicated garden spaces near community landmarks was born. The map shows the locations of these proposed gardens, their associated community centers, and the connections between them.
Additionally, the beautification and upkeep of the area on behalf of the city had fallen to the wayside, leaving the 3rd Ward with large swaths of dirt, small patches of grass, and largely untrimmed foliage. Another goal was to bring back the once managed beauty of the area through the use of the garden system as well, providing places where climate-appropriate ornamental plants could be grown, traded, and donated.
The major divider between the 3rd Ward and Midtown communities is a portion Houston’s infamous highway system. Because of this, the idea was to draw form inspiration from one of the many interchanges near the site and to reclaim the concrete mass, transforming it into a walkable green bridge.
Certain curved, more organically shaped sections were traced from the highway and manipulated to fit together in a three-dimensional manner. These created the overall body of the bridging connection. A large vertical member was introduced for structural support, but also to signify the place as a landmark, announcing the change in the current socio-economic division. The model study was used to determine the most successful combination of elements to create the form of the bridge.
After the completion of the model study, the form-creating elements drawn from the highway were analyzed and manipulated to fit into a geometrical layout, establishing an order and reason to the more finalized form.
A viewshed study was done to ensure the desired view of downtown was visible to the residents of the 3rd Ward as they crossed the structure. The low height profile and sweeping geometries of the project made sure to only enhance and direct views, minimizing obstruction from both sides.
The final version of the bridge took over an existing vehicular bridge that was rarely travelled and created a new pedestrian only connection across the highway between the two neighborhoods.
The axonometric drawing illustrates the component pieces of the project in a layered view. The lower layer is the main deck of the bridge structure, connecting to both sides of the highway and supporting the overall project. The middle layer is comprised of an enclosed space that floats between the two layers to be utilized as a community or event center for the two neighborhoods. The uppermost deck of the bridge serves as the new “ground,” providing ample space for a suspended park, holding grass, trees, and more community garden space.
The diagrammatic rendering shows how the spaces are inhabited above the highway. The enclosed space has a view directed toward downtown and the roof is completely green, allowing for users to utilize the overall project as a much needed park space.