A new exhibit for the Transforming Seattle’s 520 Floating Bridge design competition opened this week, for which over 70 entries were received. The competition asked architects and urban thinkers how best to reuse 520’s 33 pontoons, each made of almost 10 million pounds of concrete. When viewed all together, the design ideas create a rich collection of possibilities — ranging from practical to fantastical — while making strong arguments against just grinding up the pontoons and throwing them away.
WSDOT currently does not have a plan for the old pontoons once the new bridge opens in 2014. Recycling is an option, but not necessarily a good one because of the intense energy needed to crush concrete and separate its steel rebar. Competition organizers hope these hypothetical ideas — urban farm, ferry dock, park space…. global-warming rescue rafts — will led better and more sustainable solutions.
The competition winners will be announced tonight during a jury discussion forum as part of the Seattle Design Festival. Moderator Peter Steinbrueck will host competition jurors Robert E. Hull (Miller|Hull Partnership), Ev Ruffcorn (NBBJ), Shannon Nichol (Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, design firm for UW’s new Rainier Vista), Ellen Sollod (Sollod Studio), and Mark Hinshaw (LMN Architects, design firm for UW Station). Event and ticket info here.
In the meantime, here are a few of the competition ideas. More are on display at the AIA gallery (1st & Stewart, until October 26th).