Congratulations to Hans Butzer and his team at the Butzer Design Partnership on their competition winning design for the new I-40 pedestrian bridge! I spoke to Hans about a month ago and he said that he was very excited about the design they were submitting for the competition – and now I know why. The bridge is beautiful, with a dramatic stretch towards the sky and a silhouette that evokes imagery unique to Oklahoma. I didn’t have to see the design concept to know that it was inspired by the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, the state bird of Oklahoma. While the inspiration can be easily deduced, the design maintains an elegance of form that is wholly unique.
Some Guy (that is his name “Some Guy”) commented on a forum at okctalk.com:
Having seen all of the final presentations and models, I believe the winning team simply out-designed everybody else — including one worldwide architectural firm who does nothing but bridges and another worldwide firm who has designed many of the new structures you’ve seen as part of the Beijing Olympics. The local guys went toe-to-toe in an international competition and won…Who knew we had this kind of talent right here in Oklahoma City?
Actually, a lot of people have already recognized the talent of Hans (and his wife Torrey) after their design for the OKC Memorial beat out 623 entries from around the world. When they submitted their memorial designs they were living and working in Berlin, then Hans completed much of the work during his graduate program at the Harvard GSD. After graduating from school, they settled down right here in OKC. Hans is someone I really admire and has taught (and I hope will continue to teach) me so much about planning, architecture, and urban design. I really feel like we are lucky to have him in Oklahoma City, and it is nice to see him again involved in a dynamic design project that will greatly contribute to the architectural richness of Oklahoma City.
Still, Some Guy does make a good point, we do have more talent in Oklahoma City than we often realize. One thing that makes this project so wonderful is that Hans was only one member of a much larger team that all contributed to the design; a team that includes some of the best young architects our city has to offer. Hopefully local developers, organizations, institutions, and philanthropists will take note of the design, and of the fact that we have a wealth of architectural talent that goes largely untapped on major projects.
The future is bright for Oklahoma City! When this bridge is complete, the city will have a new landmark. A landmark that will be seen by thousands of people everyday. Even those persons that pass through on I-40 without stopping will be forced to see and no doubt enjoy the beauty of the design. The good times are rolling in OKC – I can’t wait to see what is next. Congratulations to the design team, to the city for running a successful competition, and to the people of Oklahoma City who who will get to enjoy this bridge for decades to come!
More on the I-40 Pedestrian Bridge
Includes a video interview with lead designers Hans Butzer and Stan Carroll, as well as more information on the design team and pictures of a scale model.
Top Ten Must Haves for our new Downtown Park
A month ago I posted this list of my “top ten must haves” for downtown’s new park. Must have #6 was beautiful bridges, and while the new I-40 bridge is not exactly in the park, it does help connect the park to the river – so it will do. Click the link to check out the other nine!