Washington, DC, USA
The 11th Street Bridge Park connects two historically disparate sides of the river with a series of programmed spaces, landscapes and active zones that provide an engaging place hovering above, yet anchored in, the Anacostia River. It is both an elevated thoroughfare and a destination, a clear moment of intersection where two sides of the river converge and coexist. The Bridge offers layers of programs, presenting a new neighborhood park for the community, an after-hours destination for the nearby workforce, a retreat for residents and a new territory for tourists to explore.
Paths from each side of the river operate as springboards—sloped ramps that elevate visitors to maximized lookout points to landmarks in either direction. Extending over the river, the Anacostia paths join to form a loop, embracing the path from the Navy Yard side and linking the opposing banks in a single gesture. The resulting form of the bridge creates an iconic encounter, an “X” instantly recognizable as a new image for the river.
The intersection of the two paths shapes the central meeting point on the bridge—an open plaza and flexible venue envisioned to accommodate markets, festivals and theatrical performances. The paths that frame this plaza further enhance the bridge as a hub of activity, providing a sequence o zones designated for play, relaxation, learning and gathering.
The paths form elevated platforms on a 5% slope with higher vantage points than a typical bridge would allow. The platforms provide views to the Anacostia River, the activities on the bridge, and prominent landmarks within Washington DC, but also provide shade and shelter for the programs housed underneath them. The depth created by extending the paths allows for an efficient structure that will allow for construction without disturbing the river. On either side of the bridge, a waterfall marks the terminus and reconnects to the river below.
While the bridge is a unique and iconic structure, its character and essence are rooted in making the river landscape accessible to the community. It is a new gateway from one community to another, activated with programs that showcase the region’s cultural and natural history. The design builds upon and connects to the existing Anacostia Riverwalk Trails on both sides of the river and creates a new topography for the public to engage and explore. Programmatic elements are also extended to the East, providing stepping stones leading to the heart of Historic Anacostia. To encourage visitors to spend time on the bridge and the neighboring communities throughout the year, amenities for comfort and refreshment, seasonal programming and mitigation of climate extremes are provided along the length of the bridge.
The bridge also enhances the community’s relationship to the river itself. Program spaces are created as a series of voids along the bridge, each with a unique connection to the river. The performance space and café are carved into the body of the bridge, creating intimate zones with views to the river below. These areas allow visitors to engage the water from multiple vantage points. An Environmental Education Center will provide a variety of learning opportunities for students and visitors, serving as a catalyst to improve the ecological integrity of the Anacostia River.
Much like the waters of the nearby Chesapeake Bay estuary, where salt and fresh water mix to create a rich biological diversity, the 11th Street Bridge Park creates a place for sharing the rich cultural diversity of communities on both sides of the river. A place where the integration of architecture, landscape and infrastructure allows for the creation of a new socially sustainable civic experience.
Architects: OMA Office for Metropolitan Architecture
Design Team: Jason Long, Yusef Ali Dennis, Titouan Chapouly, Alireza Shojakhani, Yiyao Wang,
and Gonzalo Samaniego
Landscape Architects: Olin
Client: Building Bridges Across the River