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Push to Beautify Connector Bridges is now a Competition

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Proponents of pretty bridges rejoice — it's about to go down! The next phase of a multi-year plan to spiffy up the Downtown Connector will pit the best and brightest architectural designers against each other in a quest for $16,000 $48,000, total, and oodles of pride. This week, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Midtown Alliance launched a design contest — the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition — to see who can come up with the most compelling visions for two prominent Connector bridges: the 10th Street bridge in Midtown and the Courtland Street/Ralph McGill Boulevard bridge downtown. The winning designs will be unveiled in grand fashion at the 2015 National Convention of the American Institute of Architects, held in Atlanta in May and keynoted by President Bill Clinton himself. "This (competition) allows us to tap into the best design talent and create a highly visible and lasting legacy for our city," Kevin Green of Midtown Alliance said in a press release. "We believe it will be a model for subsequent phases of work that will enhance the Connector."

Arbiters of the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition will accept applications until March 3. Winning design teams will be awarded $8,000 — and the satisfaction of knowing, "I thought of that," each time they are mired in Connector traffic. (Correction: The jury will select up to three finalists for each of the two bridges, and each finalist will be awarded $8,000 for their concept design.)

The competition is part of the broader I-75/85 Connector Transformation Project, an initiative meant to visually enhance the Connector and, eventually, address issues with connectivity, pedestrian and bicycle mobility and sustainability, officials said. Those efforts will probably not include the addition of bike lanes on the Connector.

The broader project has translated to planned improvements for two Peachtree Street bridges that cross the Connector (one near Brookwood, the other downtown). Officials said the construction bidding process for those projects is under way, and work should begin this year. "We are very excited to see what the creative minds of the design world can imagine for the second phase of the gateway bridge enhancements," added AJ Robinson, CAP President.

For additional info about the competition and details on design parameters, hop over to the competition's website. Be warned: Drunkenly scribbled images on bar napkins will likely not win.

· Bridgescape Competition [website]
· Pretty New Bridges are Coming to the Connector Soon [Curbed Atlanta]
· To Hell with Beautifying the Connector — Let's Cap It! [Curbed]