How do you solve the problem of wildlife crossing a major highway? Build a bridge! On Sunday, the NY Times reported that Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (MVVA) was named winner of an innovative competition to build a wildlife crossing over a Colorado highway. Together with construction company HNTB, the team’s design calls for a lightweight precast span that will improve animal and driver safety as well as help reduce habitat fragmentation.
Finalists for the ARC Competition were announced last year including proposals from Balmori Associates, Olin Studio, Janet Rosenberg & Associates, and Zwarts & Jansma Architects. (View a gallery of the finalists’ proposals below.) The competition carried a $40,000 award.
MVVA’s proposal is called hypar-nature after its structural system comprised of hyperbolic paraboloid vaults that support a vegetated wildlife crossing wide enough to create areas of distinct habitat for a variety of animals including forests, shrubs, and meadows. An expansive fence along the highway would shepherd animals to the bridge.
Designed to be a prototype for a network of future crossings, the design features modular precast pieces that can easily be set into place over the roadway.
While Colorado has not dedicated funds to the project or determined what site to pursue, officials hope to study the finalists’ proposals.