EXCLUSIVE: 7 Visions of What the Bridge District Could Look Like

In 2009, Citylab-Orlando (Website), the Orlando location of the University of Florida Graduate School of Architecture, worked with the City of Orlando to get a $50,600 grant for an urban planning and design research project/visioning exercise creating design proposals for the Downtown Orlando Under I4 Bridge District called "I4 Bridge District Study: Opportunity Assessment and Placemaking Initiative."

The University of Florida called it
The grant was a small part of a three-part $656,600 grant application titled Parramore Neighborhood Revitalization. Part two, $206,000, was meant to purchase distressed properties for future residential development. The city was unable to purchase the properties, so the full amount was added to the $400,000 tagged for the third part, Accessory opportunities. Those $600,000 worth of accessories included a Gore Street streetscape, surveillance cameras (this part took until 2015 to complete) and enhanced Parramore street lighting.  

The goal of the Bridge District visioning exercise was as follows: 
"The City of Orlando budgeted $50,600 in finding to connect the core of Downtown Orlando located east of Interstate 4 with the Centroplex site on the west side on Interstate 4. The City's goal was to create an inviting, safe and prosperous connecting environment through the development of a Bridge District that will include two-story buildings being built under the interstate, along with developing additional street-level activities. "
The University of Florida stated the goals as thus:

"This urban planning and design research project, proposed by the University of Florida Graduate School of Architecture, will study alternative design concepts generated in collaboration with the City of Orlando, Florida to assess, advance and implement a “Placemaking Initiative” referred to as the “Interstate 4 Bridge District” for downtown Orlando. This project will explore urban design and architectural projects that will, in coordination with an Interstate 4 highway expansion project, promote mixed use development with an emphasis on recreational, entertainment and commercial programs that integrate high quality pedestrian oriented design to reconnect the urban space contiguous with the Interstate."
This visioning research project began Fall 2009, ended October 201 and had 6 phases. 

The results of the study are below: 
  1. (The book) provided the City of Orlando "with a critical component of its visioning process for downtown Orlando..." 
  2. "(The book)...helped the City of Orlando move forward toward achieving its stated goal that 'the Bridge District will become a keystone of Orlando's Vision Plan uniting communities, connecting destination venues and creating a memorable sense of place.'"
The final recommendations/vision from the study were printed in a book and given to participating Council members and staffers. 

We asked for a copy of the book. The City of Orlando sent it in PDF form. 

Below are seven of the renderings and project description highlights from the book. 

Daniel Gutierrez
The overhead condition under the actual bridge is designed to minimize the noise and vibrations from the interstate by creating air gaps as well as incorporating mass and acoustical absorbing materials. It is also designed with the aim of rejecting and welcoming sunlight into the different public spaces according to their time of use. It captures rain water from the interstate and directs it into water filtrating Living Machines present throughout the public space. 

William Hamilton Arthur IV
To maintain the cultural value of the Parramore district, this proposal is intended to culturally
and promote the existing community, with an emphasis on its history as an African American
community. A strong economic improvement to the district, without cultural loss is definably possible. And community incentives to create wealth in the significance that Parramore possesses

Ran Li
The bridge deserves to have a more prominent role in the city. It is a big public space in the city, a
genuine free space with many possibilities for uses such as walking, daydreaming, shopping...
I analysis the flow of pedestrian at different time of the bridge district, and then use the “voronoi
diagram” to generate the site plan. I propose the creation of a sinking plaza beneath the bridge to act as an urban link and event generator.

A bridge building Building and bridge cannot be thought of separately. Spatially and functionally, the bridge is the condition for the building and the building is the condition for the bridge.

A bridge on this downtown area is unthinkable without a building at its point. The building below the bridge consists of restaurants, gallery, retails, café, stores and studio. With the bridge an attractive connection is at once made at this intersection between a number of recreation routes from east to west and from north to the south.

Nicholas Lowe
The porous shell of the bridge insulates and refracts sound. The skin serves as its own structure and
allows for the passages of light. Buffer zones occur when multiple layers of skin begin to overlap. It is here where pedestrian pathways and public events take place. There are a variety of scales of pedestrian spaces that run parallel with the interstate.

The skin wraps underneith the bridge and forms an exhibition area. This brings the person ‘into’ the bridge rather than just through it.

Noah Marks
To mitigate ambient road noise, the carapce incorporates acoustic paneling. Fitted with photovoltaic panels, the structure’s large surface area generates enough elecricity to power lighting for itself and surrounding buildings.

The “articulated carapace" allows light to mark the interstate through selective slits and frames views of downtown Orlando with larger apertures. At night, artificial light animates the facade creating a spectacle for motorists and city residents. Reaching down beneath the interstate, it activates the street edge and encloses elevated spaces nested within the structure of the overpass.

Angel Ortiz
"The structural skin acts as an immersing canopy that overhangs both Garland ave. and Huey ave. emphasizing the required stitching of empty urban blocks spanning east to west bellow the bridge. The structural skin eventually curves bellow the bridge and marks both ground plazas through the center. The overhead ceiling for the plaza is essentially a series of media panels that include broadcast
monitors, screens for advertising, and sporting events. The public plazas are flat hardscape
that may encompass a variety of cultural events, entertainment and leisure.

Glenda Puente
The bridge complex has three levels: the bottom double-height level contains retail, coffee shops, offices, and outdoor spaces. The middle level contains the highway, which is fully enclosed as a tunnel that does not allow sound out providing a more peaceful atmosphere underneath it. At night the tunnel provides a light show as the cars speed by. The third level is the outermost exterior level and houses recreational activities; sidewalks, bicycle paths and children playgrounds are interwoven into the bridge’s skin. There are also large areas of sand which are partly shaded by the vegetation that will grow on this level contributing to the urban beach setting proposed by the project. Other areas will be translucent in order for the highway to receive natural diffused light during the

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