North Avenue Dam Bridge

This design proposal for the new North Avenue Dam Pedestrian Bridge is a celebration of both the existing conditions of the site, as well as the possibilities of a dynamic structural expression. The project is seen as one of a series of new connections across the Milwaukee River, and general improvements to the River Valley itself. New housing, revitalized older neighborhoods, reclaimed industrial land and improved commercial, cultural and recreational facilities are creating an exciting renaissance for this once neglected part of the city.

The bridge is composed of three components that weave their way through the dam and over the water. Inspired by the form of a fishing rod, the proposal incorporates three simple, elegant structural strategies for supporting the new walkway: The East Prow, the "Strung" Arc, and the West Landing.

The East Prow incorporates an ironwood boardwalk leading to the main span. The Prow is supported, at a distance from the dam, on a latticework of steel and wood trusses attached to the south face of the existing dam structure. Steel railings to the north and west allow for open views to both the dam and the river opening.

The Strung Arc ironwood walkway rests within a pair of arcing, tapered steel beams. The walkway is subtly arched as it crosses the water, approximating but not exactly following the arc of the steel beams, giving a sense of coming upon a very special condition as one crosses the water. The railings at the Strung Arc are provided in part by open steel railings with wood handrails, and in part by the tapered steel beams themselves.

After crossing the water, the walkway reaches The West Landing, which is embedded just north of the west section of dam spillway. At this end the walkway hovers slightly above the dam in order to connect with the existing topography at the entry easement and possible future river bike trail.

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