by Henry Melcher, The Architect’s Newspaper
Fuss & O’Neill, Pirie Associates Architects, and Svigals + Partners turn a freeway overpass into a pedestrian experience.
Like many American cities, New Britain, Connecticut, has a highway problem. Thanks to the automobile-centric planning of the 20th Century, the busy Route 72 cuts straight through the city, tearing apart any semblance of a cohesive urban fabric. Now local leaders are trying to right this urban planning wrong.
As part of New Britain’s larger urbanist agenda to create a more pedestrian-friendly city, there are plans to top a Route 72 overpass with a colorful and sculptural form intended to lure people on foot over the highway toward the downtown core. It was designed by the civil engineering consulting firm Fuss & O’Neill, Pirie Associates Architects, and Svigals + Partners, all of which are based in Connecticut.
Chris Bockstael of Svigals + Partners said the project’s distinctive honeycomb form is an extension of the imagery seen in the town’s motto: “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.” It also plays into New Britain’s working-class, manufacturing heritage by incorporating brass and copper elements, though most of the structure is aluminum to reduce weight, per DOT requirements.