Airway at I-10 Bridge Aesthetic Identity Element Process
Our process for the aesthetic enhancement of the I-10 Bridge at Airway in El Paso, Texas, started by identifying it as a gateway to the city. People coming from or going to the airport will pass through the site and it needs to serve as an identity element for the area. We selected the themes of flight, wind, and sky because of this connection to the airport. The following picture is a schematic recommendation from the initial master plan we did for the I-10 corridor.
The identity elements we proposed had to be free-standing from the bridge, so we started exploring the idea of cladding a truss. A truss allows us to span the distance without tying back to the bridge while also masking the bridge behind. This armature then enabled us to explore how to create the sense of movement in an identity piece that would relate to our theme.
Our ideation process includes trying variations of many schemes to figure out which are more successful at expressing the concept and relating to the site. First we do quick hand sketches to get out the general approach to the concept. Then we model the more promising ideas digitally. This gives a quicker and more detailed look at how successful a scheme is than drawing and modeling by hand. Many schemes are brought to this level of development and that allows for thoughtful analysis before selecting which scheme to develop further.
We then evaluated all the preliminary models looking to see if they satisfy many different criteria. First, they must be feasible solutions that address the needs of the site. Second, they must convey the concept in a strong, clear and beautiful manner. Third, they must have a sense of possibility for further development. We found that a system of fins reduces the need for unique custom parts, has a strong tie to the ideas of flight and could be manipulated to make graceful forms.
Every decision in this design process is influenced by our personal aesthetic, our intuitive understanding and our knowledge gathered from experience. We start out looser and freer in our initial sketches seeing how far we can stretch our imaginations. Then at each step we refine the scheme to fit the concept and the site with tighter and tighter criteria. This allows us to create, develop and propose imaginative solutions at difficult sites that successfully convey a strong concept. Mirroring the fins in a graceful arch across the bridge created a large gesture that incorporated the entire site, expressing the concept at an appropriate scale.