Cascading Columns

Merit Award

In 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge opened as the largest suspension bridge spanning New York's East River. Never considered aesthetically beautiful, the bridge falls short in comparison with the acclaimed Brooklyn Bridge.

This proposal for a new railing along the pedestrian and bicycle walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge employs illuminated poles as part of the supporting structure. The poles light up when a pedestrian passes by, providing an alternative lighting source for the walkway. A pole is illuminated to roughly one-third of its height. The lit segment, which starts out at the bottom of the pole, gradually travels upward until it vanishes above the structure. Visible from afar, the lighting system is a reassuring indication of activity on the walkway, encouraging more people to frequent the bridge at night. Furthermore, the new lighting system may reduce costs for the bridge maintenance.

Jury Comments: 

"This is a clear, elegant proposal for dramatizing the passage of pedestrians across the Williamsburg Bridge. The idea is to provide animated light for the walker as well as signaling to the rest of the world the live activity of the bridge. This concept is at once poetic and crystal clear, unburdened with any didactic message. It is a simple celebration of pedestrian life and the urban scene."

Design Firm: 

Christian Marc Schmidt, Yale University School of Art



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Design Team: 



Lisa Strausfeld, Ben Rubin (instructors)



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