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Scott Mizée

nice. This is the type of thing I love about architecture school. Thanks for posting!

Edgar P.

The allying of building program with urban infrastructure such as bridges, highways, etc. has a long history, and architects as visionaries have made their share of proposals like this - including renderer -extraordinaire Hugh Ferris back in the early 20th century. We can go back to precedents such as the Ponte Vecchio in Florence (which was/is lined with shops) and the ones you’ve cited, although they’re exceptions to the rule.

Aside from jurisdictional issues which can be subverted with enough political will, it’s incontrovertible that putting building program adjacent to carriageways produces unacceptable loss of quality of life/use – as longs a motor vehicles produce pollution, vibration and noise (maybe someday the won't). And the main example I’ll deploy will be (referred to by the radio announcers on 1010-WINS as) “the buildings” over the Cross Bronx expressway, the main regional artery linking New Jersey to New York and as Interstate route 95, the highway between Florida and Maine. The highway was built in the late 40’s, a Robert Moses project that slices the Bronx cleanly in half, and was depressed into the earth to allow certain at-grade connections to penetrate between the North and South Bronx. As an accompaniment to this plan four apartment buildings on piloti were planned and executed to straddle this highway at grade, and there they stand today, dingy, covered in soot, with nary a window open (one speculates if they are even operable), hovering over a highway that carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles daily, noise echoing up from the roadway in a dull roar at all times. This represents the worst of planning that assumed that buildings and roadways would work together poetically in the modern age. The reality for the residents who choose to live here is something else, and one that has given modernism a bad name, something all of us architects have had to work against.

Obviously this is an extreme case of what you’re talking about, as a romantic little hovering café over/under the absolutely lovable Hawthorne Bridge that would be a curiosity more than anything else. It shouldn’t be misconstrued in my view with a new paradigm for urban housing or any other kind of program. Somehow I wish Mr. Barton et. al. would think up better ways to bring visionary optimism and brainy planning concepts into studio curricula for their students – like brownfield sites and marginal lots, aside from one-liners like these.


I would also love to see this happen, I think it's a great idea. The Hawthorne being the bridge with the most bike and pedestrian traffic also makes this a great spot for it.

We used to live in Vilnius, Lithuania, and there was a pedestrian-only bridge across the Neris river in the middle of the city that had a pizza restaurant in the middle, and we always loved that it was there. It was great to sit outside on warm days and just be able to see the city.

Kenny Bauer

I love this idea. The last picture is really intriguing. I could see this as a top date spot for viewing the city. This IS thinking outside the box. I wish this could become reality. Very Cool!


Edgar, I would argue the one liner idea...sure a cafe on the Hawthorne may be seen as a one liner, but coming from someone who has known Rudy for years, his obsession and curiosity of the river and its importance to the city's fabric, character, and overall design is far from a one liner. This project is just one small piece in Rudy's studios that focus on the importance of our river.


I really liked seeing back to back posts regarding both the UO PDX architecture program and the PSU architecture program. If there are any PSU architecture students or instructors reading this post, many UO PDX arch students like myself would welcome more student work sharing between the two schools. If there are PSU lecture series posters or PSU studio review schedules that anyone would like posted in our studio area, email me ([email protected]) and I'll post it to our student-run bulletin board. I'd also be happy to try and get the right people hooked up between the two schools so that this type of info is shared regularly during the school year. Looking forward to seeing more PSU student work in the future.

carless in pdx

This really underscores the failure of the city to really take advantage of and arguably our best natural resource in the city: the river.

There are so few options to actually access and experience the river's edge, but good progress was made with the Esplanade and Waterfront Park. We need visionary projects like these to kick the city in the butt and get people to rethink the status quo...

I find it embarrassing that the best view of the city (and river) is from atop the ugliest bridge in the state zipping along a freeway.


I thought something like this would be a nice addition to the proposed ped/lightrail bridge that's part of the Milwaukee MAX extension. Make it wind/solar/etc. powered.

Something larger scale, like a brew-pub, could be built into the Columbia river crossing bridge (e.g., as a low arch over the traffic). It would only be available to, and act as a reward for, light rail riders (no parking lot in the middle of the bridge!). It too could be powered sustainably.

Bottom line for both bridges- in order to give people more incentives to use a structure look beyond its initial function.


masaye, you should really stop by the PSU studio, I am sure you could gather enough support among the students there if you wanted to. It would make much more sense to have the two programs at least communicating a little bit. The heads of the programs might not be too friendly to each other, but that is no reason the students from the two programs cant interact more.

Frank Dufay

A couple of points:

1. When I lived at Riverplace, you couldn't sit out anywhere on the deck without first wiping off the auto exhaust filth that had accumulated. That glass from image one would be covered in dirt in the first hour, and breathing the air there would be unhealthy.

2. Image two: again, gravity is the enemy for all the crap falling from the air.

3. Image three: One pedestrian, one bike --riding close to the auto lane, which isn't how they ride-- and two cars off in the distance. Has this person been ON this bridge? :-)

4. The image doesn't show where people are, so how does one comment?

Why not build off where people really DO stop for donuts and coffee, at the north side of the western end? Just a thought.

Eric Cantona

you kids get off my lawn!!!


"(if you call going up and down when there is no water traffic a "function")."

Huh? The bridge opens for boats all the time. Ever heard of Ross Island Sand and Gravel? How about the Portland Spirit?

Brian Libby

Grant, sorry for the confusion but I was kidding. I was referring to the fact that, in addition to the boats it opens for regularly, the Hawthorne Bridge also often opens without the prompting of a passing boat because the bridge needs to open every 8 hours in order to keep its parts working. I wrote a previous post about the bridge where I found this by true by talking to Mike Pullen of Multnomah County.

Ted Grund

The concept is fine (could be great) but it seems that we are talking abut the wrong bridge. Go a little ways north and you have the Burnsside Bridge with an expansive open truss structure below which could be decked and used for a variety of functions, including the cafe. It has the singular advantage of landing almost exactly at grade where it abuts the seawall, so access is easy. With lightweight lower lift decks for pedestrians linked to the main lift spans, the under deck could provide a great connection across the river (sounds crazy, but look what we got on the Steel Bridge...). The potential for a dedicated, covered ped./bike realm (with a solid bridge deck, so no car filth showering down)seems compelling. Maybe it could allow the newly constrained Saturday Market to spill across the river, in keeping with historic bridges that supported marketplace elements.
Seems like that could be an exiting dynamic space with great views all around.

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