Washington's 11th Street Bridge Park will be "a place of exchange" with programmed outdoor spaces and active zones. The design, by OMA and OLIN, was chosen after a seven-month competition to design the new civic space. It was chosen unanimously by the competition jury and topped the public poll.

The existing 11th Street Bridges, which cross the Anacostia River between the Washington Navy Yard on one side and Anacostia Park on the other, are in the process of being replaced and will become defunct. Instead of demolishing them all, the decision was made to repurpose the downstream bridge as a public space in much the same way as has been done with the New York Central Railroad to create the High Line.

Designs by the four teams selected for the competition were unveiled last month. OMA and OLIN faced competition from a Balmori Associates and Cooper, Robertson & Partners team, a Stoss Landscape Urbanism and Höweler and Yoon Architecture team, and a Wallace Roberts & Todd and NEXT Architects team. A list of design principles and required facilities was drawn up via engagement with the community, and was used to help evaluate the competition submissions.

The aims of the bridge are to promote health in the community by providing a safe place for residents to exercise and play, connect the community with the Anacostia River, reconnect the neighborhoods of Anacostia and Capitol Hill, and generate new jobs and economic activity.

OMA and OLIN's design features two slopes that rise towards and intersect at the center of the river, creating a recognizable "X" shape. The elevated spaces at the top of these slopes provide viewing points for the public. The end of each slope has a waterfall that cascades down through the lower level of the bridge to the river below. The waterfalls incorporate a filtration system that cleans the water before returning it to the river.

"Our design creates a literal intersection and a dynamic, multi-layered amenity for both sides of the river," says OMA partner-in-charge Jason Long. "It simultaneously functions as a gateway to both sides of the river, a lookout point with expansive views, a canopy that can shelter programs and a public plaza where the two paths meet. The resulting form of the bridge creates an iconic encounter, an 'X' instantly recognizable within the capital’s tradition of civic spaces."

Space on the bridge is split into four categories of usage, for people to relax, gather, learn and play. Spaces for relaxation include rain gardens, a picnic garden, a hammock grove and open lawns, whilst cafes, a plaza and amphitheater provide places for people to gather. Learning spaces are provided for environmental education, urban agriculture and interactive art, while spaces for play include a boat launch area and a "21st century play" area.

Construction of the 11th Street Bridge Park is expected to be complete by 2018.

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