by Lonnie Anderson, AIA
The 35W bridge collapse was a tragedy that caused us locals much shock, grief, fear, and uncertainty, and not just in the hearts of Minnesotans, but throughout the rest of the country and beyond. Planning for a replacement bridge has already been rapidly implemented. But more can be done to monument this tragedy and forever remember those lost in the collapse.
Developers are already vying for the valuable land around this river community, but I believe it would be a wise decision to lease the airspace over the new bridge structure for an office, hotel, condominium, and restaurant destination, with parking, where profits could help offset the bridge redevelopment costs. Examples of this are in Louisville, where they built a large museum plaza on the Ohio River and added commercial components and a parking ramp in order to compensate museum costs. Also, of course, there is the Freedom Tower being erected in New York City to replace the fallen World Trade Center. That too is significant in stature, design, and symbolism.
I envision an urban design that could give Minnesotans the opportunity to show what can be done in the face of tragedy and set precedent for modern architecture in Minnesota - buildings that can be functional and environmentally friendly, and that can be magnificent as well as incorporate an economic and adaptive use of airspace. I have sketched a concept for a skyscraper cradled between two enormous and breathtaking wish-bones supporting eight-story space frames which hold wind turbines, capable of generating plentiful amounts of clean power from the Venturi effects of wind streaming down the Mississippi. The wishbone frames are concrete helical ramps cast on bedrock to withstand Herculean weights thrust down from the skyscraper above.
As a senior project architect, and graduate of University of Minnesota, I have been designing buildings for 35 years, and as a proud Minnesotan saddened and stricken by the collapse of the bridge I used to commute over every day, I ask why not design a multi-use destination complex that WILL last into the next century, as a transcendent tribute to the victims, a means to support the redevelopment of the bridge, and to leave a legacy for future generations? Please consider my proposal and if you share my vision or have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.