Rector Street Bridge

Dec 31, 2002



Project TypeTemporary bridge
LocationLower Manhattan, New York City, USA
DateOpened August 2002
In Use2002-present
ClientNew York State Department of Transportation, Battery Park City Authority
Design FirmSHoP Architects
EngineersBuro Happold (structural), LiRo Group (foundations)
Contractor/ManufacturerLiRo Group, Tully
FunderFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Cost$3.5 million USD
Length67 m/220 ft

Rector Street Bridge at night. Photo: Seong Kwon / SHoP Architects

The Rector Street Pedestrian Bridge was one of the first infrastructural elements built near the former World Trade Center after the events of September 11, 2001. Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the bridge was proposed by traffic engineer Sam Schwartz and the Battery Park City Authority. It was implemented to temporarily reconnect the residents and businesses of New York City’s Battery Park neighborhood to the rest of Lower Manhattan but is still in use today.

Battery Park had been annexed by a six-lane highway that served as a crucial access route for emergency and construction vehicles to Ground Zero. Pedestrian circulation, vehicular traffic and cleanup efforts were the main impacts under consideration during the early design process, according to William Sharples of SHoP Architects. “For the first two or three weeks of the project we didn’t think about what the bridge would look like, instead we focused on the major implications of the bridge,” Sharples says. Construction sequence and design were established in collaboration with several local and federal agencies.

The bridge’s superstructure, a prefabricated galvanized steel box truss system, was constructed in eight months to avoid disrupting round-the-clock cleanup efforts on the West Side Highway. A steel roof truss system was then mounted on top, selectively cladding the exterior wall surfaces. Neighbors were concerned that the bridge would become a viewing platform for Ground Zero so the design team organized the cladding on different elevations to create selected apertures that let sunlight into the bridge. At night, light emanates from the light “planks” in the floor.

The bridge was originally expected to remain in use for two and a half years; however, the north span of the bridge remains in use (awaiting) until a more permanent structure can replace(ment) it.


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