WXY, in collaboration with structural engineering firm Weidlinger Associates (now Thornton Tomasetti), was commissioned by the NYCEDC to reimagine the pedestrian connection between Battery Park City and the Financial District. Key to its design approach was needing to be maintained and approved by NYC’s Department of Transportation which had not approved an iconic bridge in half a century and be built under the Buy America program.
Built as a replacement for the Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge, which was constructed as an interim crossing of West Street after September 11, 2001. The resulting bridge structure uses the minimum footprint and the lightest structure to achieve an appropriate experience to connect pedestrians to the waterfront parks at the New York Harbor.
In the design, architecture and structure are shaped together. The lenticular asymmetrical truss reflects our approach to both saving costs and creating a visual icon. By angling the 230’ bridge span and breaking it into two uneven sections it saved on extensive foundation costs by choosing the small space with solid ground between the two tunnel entrances. Located in an area dense with residences and educational institutions, the Robert R. Douglass Bridge will continue to safely link students and residents across the heavy traffic passing through West Street and the Battery Tunnel exit.
The bridge’s access points are oriented to minimize impacts to the surrounding community playground and gardens, while also offering ease of access through pairs of stairs and glass elevators. The glass and structure combine to create an airier, more open environment maximizing natural lighting during the day; in the evening, the bridge itself is the lighting feature integrating the LED fixtures into handrails and the steel structure.
Opened at the end of 2019, the new bridge is already heavily used and much admired against the skyline of lower Manhattan. The spacious walkway accommodates a steady and unimpeded flow of pedestrian traffic during peak periods, while allowing for enough space for pedestrians in leisure to enjoy the views of Lower Manhattan.
New York City Economic Development Corporation; Battery Park City Authority