Mind & Matter


Re-Suturing the City

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La Dallman's Marsupial Bridge, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo By Weston Imaging Group LLC


Building on my last post about the successful architectural contribution the Oslo Opera House has made to the public sphere, I would like to relate a recent experience with another lesser-known example of effective integration of architecture and infrastructure in the service of public access.

During a visit to the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I had the pleasure of traversing the Marsupial Bridge with Grace La of the office La Dallman. The bridge makes use of an existing rail viaduct—now used exclusively by cars—as a “host” for a new pedestrian and bicycle-focused connection. The new bridge is suspended deftly below the structure, and is sloped in response to the existing viaduct frame. The concrete appendage is articulated with stainless steel and wood details, as well as integral lighting.

La Dallman’s Marsupial Bridge highlights a much-needed approach to re-suturing cities with enhanced pedestrian access—especially considering the recent criticism of our auto-centric transportation-scape. The bridge design not only provides a previously nonexistent method of crossing Milwaukee River on foot, but also includes seating, viewing platforms, and a theatrical backdrop for film projection and impromptu dance performances.

Since the construction of the bridge, pedestrian-friendly housing and retail developments have increased dramatically along the Milwaukee River Walk—due in no small part to the new connection between two previously divided neighborhoods. The design thus demonstrates an effective approach to improving the physical access, spatial qualities, and social atmosphere of cities with minimal resources.



Comments (3 Total)

  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 1:23 PM Wednesday, April 07, 2010

    Looks frightening!!

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  • Posted by: Anonymous | Time: 5:30 PM Tuesday, April 06, 2010

    I like the addtion to the existing structure...a way to fight crime by getting people out of the house and onto the streets, security and freedom can work together by bringing people out to frequent our public spaces! Nice Work!

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  • Posted by: Been mugged | Time: 1:10 PM Tuesday, April 06, 2010

    The pedestrian bridge looks likes a muggers dream come true! Out of site from passing traffic, anyone crossing alone would be an easy target. Cool!

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About the Blogger

Blaine Brownell

thumbnail image Minnesota-based architect and author Blaine Brownell, AIA, is a self-defined materials researcher and sustainable building adviser. His "Product of the Week" emails and three volumes of Transmaterial (2006, 2008, 2010) provide designers with a steady flow of inspiration—a 21st-century Grammar of Ornament. Blaine has practiced architecture in Japan and the U.S. and has been published in more than 40 design, business, and science publications. The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for 2006–07, he researched contemporary Japanese material innovations at the Tokyo University of Science. He currently teaches architecture and co-directs the M.S. in Sustainable Design program at the University of Minnesota. His book Matter in the Floating World was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2011.