RISD students create the exhibition Crossing the Pell for the Newport Bridge

PROVIDENCE: An exhibition rethinking the Newport Pell Bridge opened Friday at the Rhode Island School of Design, offering the public the opportunity to virtually ride a bike through the route that connects Newport and Jamestown.

The exhibition, Crossing the Pell, also includes other virtual elements and was built by students from RISD’s Adaptive Reuse program, a one-year master’s program for architects that focuses on reusing structures.

Students reinvented the bridge with innovative composite materials for construction. Its design provides access for pedestrians and cyclists.

Liliane Wong, professor and head of department at the school’s Department of Interior Architecture, said her students ’work is practical but visionary, because the students spoke with several experts throughout the project.

He said it would be amazing if some of his students ’ideas could be included in future improvement projects.

Pictures: Construction of the Newport Bridge

“They’re great visions, but they’re not air-based,” he said. “We’ve talked to structural engineers, wind experts, bike experts, etc., just to get an idea of ​​the perimeter. So these are four very big visions and you’ll see that some of them even go further.” .

In addition to creating a path for walking or circling the bridge, Wong said students planned to build a floating fish market in Newport’s North End, ways to rejuvenate Narragansett Bay for the future, art sites, parks and cafeterias.

Eight graduate students, Shuyi Guan, Nupoor Maduskar, Saira Margarita Paz Nepomuceno, SeungHwan Oh, Demi Okunfulure, Sofia Paez and Mohan Wang, worked on the project.

In late May, students presented their ideas to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s team, using cardboard virtual reality viewers and a tour of the site created with Pano software. It gave an idea of ​​what it would be like to cross the Pell Bridge on foot.

After touring, Whitehouse said he was totally amazed at the vision and talent of the RISD students.

Looking back: The construction of the Newport Bridge changed Aquidneck Island forever

“They reinvented what could be the Pell Bridge. I hope the people of Rhode Island are inspired by these designs as we want to include more innovative elements in future infrastructure projects, ”he said.

The exhibition will be on view until the end of the week at the Sol Koffler Graduate Student Gallery, located at 1169 Weybosset Street in Providence.

An asset for Rhode Island

Whitehouse, an advocate for improving Rhode Island bridges, said Friday afternoon that student work on this project shows people how amateurish it is to add these elements to existing infrastructure.

“Once you have these images in your head, it’s hard to see them. And I think from now on, the possibility of a bike and pedestrian route being something exciting becomes much more real thanks to your work,” he said. to say.

He said it is important to develop these improvements, because there is a huge demand for bike and pedestrian lanes, but also these updates could encourage people to visit Rhode Island.

Month: The long-awaited reconfiguration of the Newport Pell Bridge ramps begins

“I think walking over Newport Bridge, depending on how it’s done, can be as exciting as getting on the giant wheel of London,” he said.

Aside from the Newport Pell Bridge, Whitehouse said he would also like to see improvements to the Jamestown Bridge and Mount Hope Bridge.

“Then you could do a loop if you go cycling and I think people who travel to do exciting bike rides would love to do this exciting loop along Bristol’s bike path, across the beautiful coastal coast of Rhode Island. and across those three … bridges, ”Whitehouse said. “There’s a worse way to spend the day.”

Pathway is not the only project proposed for the bridge

There is currently no federal source of funding for this project, but Whitehouse said work is underway to obtain funding through a bipartisan infrastructure bill. If this bill does not pass, he is determined to push for bridge improvements across Rhode Island throughout his tenure.

What is this?: The man who put his hand on a railing during the construction of the Newport Bridge

“Things like this that are new and don’t necessarily fit into an existing budget pigeon hole maintain some persistence, and I think in this case, the RISD work broadens the imagination and I hope it gives people the chance to get excited about it as a possibility, ”he said.

While Whitehouse and RISD students have a vision of the Skin Bridge, others want to improve safety. Earlier this year, legislation was introduced that would require suicide barriers on Newport County bridges and the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority issued a request for a proposal.

With any bridge improvements that could come, Whitehouse said suicide prevention should be a top priority and should absolutely be considered for any pedestrian bridge design.

“I am pleased that state leaders have initiated a process to better prevent these tragedies, and these findings should be considered in any study that examines the viability of a pedestrian bridge,” he said.

A virtual bike ride

Newport resident Susan Daly was one of the first people to take the virtual bike ride across the bridge on Friday.

“This particular experience, the bike path, the pedestrian path, is under the bridge itself, so you could see the views, what you could see,” he said. “It’s spectacular to see the water. You can see a little bit of how it can work and several unique features.”

Daly attended the exhibition because he works for Composite Alliance Rhode Island, an organization that represents about 70 companies across the state that work with carbon fiber, fiberglass and composites.

The company has been in talks for years with the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation about compound use.

Daly thought the exhibition was a lot of fun.

“I think it’s wonderful to take an iconic structure like this and say how you can add a pedestrian / bike component, because it will be amazing when that happens from a tourism standpoint,” he said.

You can contact Bethany Brunelle at bbrunelle@newportri.com 907-575-8528 or @bethanyfreuden1 on Twitter, Insta: bethanyfreudenthal, TikTok: thehijabicrimereporter, Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/bethany-freudenthal

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