Barbara Walker Crossing

Submitted by Ed Carpenter

37+

Client: Portland Parks Foundation/City of Portland, OR

Location: Portland, OR, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $4,050,000

Project Team

Artist/Bridge Designer

Ed Carpenter

Client

Portland Oregon Parks Foundation

Client

City of Portland, Oregon

Structural Engineering

KPFF Engineers, Portland, Oregon

Landscape Architects

Walker/Macy, Portland, Oregon

Project Management

Shiels, Obletz, Johnson, Portland, Oregon

General Contractor

R&H Construction, Portland, Oregon

Steel Fabrication

Supreme Steel, Portland, Oregon

Overview

CODA AWARDS 2020 WINNER IN TWO CATEGORIES: TRANSPORTATION AND PEOPLE’S CHOICE

Barbara Walker Crossing at the Wildwood Trail/West Burnside Pedestrian Bridge, Portland, OR 2019
180’ x 12’ x 8’
Welded, painted CorTen steel structure, fiberglass deck grating, stone paving at North landing
Budget: $4,050,000

Goals

Portland’s Wildwood Trail winds 30 miles through parks along the western edge of the city, rarely crossing roads. For many years, the busiest road crossing was a major arterial, where runners and walkers had to negotiate three lanes of traffic with short sight lines. In 2011, Ed Carpenter initiated the bridge project and created the design to blend seamlessly with the experience of the trail. Carpenter was himself a 40-year trail runner and “survivor of the crossing at West Burnside”. He had already designed a number of unusually expressive bridges in addition to his monumental sculpture commissions around the world.
Carpenter’s design evokes imagery of the sword ferns and vine maples lining the entire length of the trail, while honoring the following design objectives:
• Seamless experience for walkers/runners
• Fit into forest context
• Minimally intrusive
• Transparent/delicate
• Iconic/original
• Reasonable cost
• Off-site fabrication & quick erection
• Easy to maintain

Process

Carpenter spent three years studying different schemes, collaborating with engineers, and promoting the project on his own in meetings with more than twenty neighborhood groups, non-profits, City Commissioners, City bureaus, and Mayor Charlie Hales, before convincing Portland Parks Foundation to take on the role of sponsor. Eventually this became a project of the Portland Parks Foundation in partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and Metro.

Additional Information

Ed Carpenter is an artist specializing in large-scale public installations ranging from architectural sculpture to infrastructure design. Since 1973 he has completed scores of projects for public, corporate, and ecclesiastical clients. Working internationally from his studio in Portland, Oregon, USA, Carpenter collaborates with a variety of expert consultants, sub-contractors, and studio assistants. He personally oversees every step of each commission, and installs them himself with a crew of long-time helpers, except in the case of the largest objects, such as bridges. While an interest in light has been fundamental to virtually all of Carpenter's work, he also embraces commissions that require new approaches and skills. This openness has led to increasing variety in his commissions and a wide range of sites and materials. Recent projects include interior and exterior sculptures, bridges, towers, and gateways. His use of glass in new configurations, programmed artificial lighting, and unusual tension structures have broken new ground in architectural art. He is known as an eager and open-minded collaborator as well as technical innovator.