Currently the only link between the rapidly developing neighborhoods of Long Island City, Queens, and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is the Pulaski Bridge, a six-lane drawbridge with a narrow pathway where pedestrians and bikers jostle for space. Brooklyn-based CRÈME/Jun Aizaki Architecture & Design wants to change that by proposing the LongPoint Bridge, a 250-foot-long crossing dedicated to foot and bike traffic.
The bridge is distinguished from its counterparts across the city for its lightweight, floating timber construction. It is anchored on either end by a concrete and steel mast embedded into the waterbed of Newtown Creek (the East River canal that divides Queens and Brooklyn). Glulam beams joined by galvanized steel braces and pins rise in two trussed peaks of armature around the nearly 50-foot-tall masts. The structure is a nod to the area’s industrial past and present while also referencing the iconic profiles of other bridges in the city. Its height above the canal allows smaller vessels to pass underneath, but for larger boats, the bridge pivots open in the middle, with each section moving on propeller-driven pontoons. This floating feature also allows the bridge to rise and fall with the tides.
According to Jun Aizaki, the firm’s founder and principal, the bridge’s design and timber composition allows it to be assembled off-site and installed quickly and inexpensively; in the long term, it will require only minimal repairs. CRÈME also proposes public parks and loading docks to flank the bridge on both ends, along with a pedestrian crossing over the Long Island Railroad commuter rails just beyond the canal. Together with the timber bridge, the pathway would connect commuters to the G and 7 trains on either side.
With the impending L train shutdown in 2019 and the predicted growth of Long Island City as it hosts Amazon’s HQ2, the timing of a quickly constructed, relatively affordable bridge seems ideal. Aizaki and his team, which includes a community organizer, are busy raising support and funds through meetings with public officials and local community members. For Aizaki, the bridge is intended as “a grassroots, rather than developer-initiated, project,” which he hopes will “be a symbol of something the community can be proud of.”