Big River Crossing Wins 2017 American Architecture Award

April 11th, 2017
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Big River Crossing, the country’s longest active bike-pedestrian rail bridge, has received the prestigious American Architecture Award. This award is the nation’s highest public award for new architecture, given by a non-commercial, non-trade affiliated, public arts, culture and educational institution. 

The American Architecture Award is presented by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in combination with The European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. The two entities have combined their efforts each year since 1994 to honor the best new buildings and planning projects across America.

This year’s jury was held in Athens, Greece and included seven Greek architects, artists and critics. The candidates were judged on the merits of their design and how they operate within “problems of the environment, social context, technical and constructive solutions, the responsible use of energies, restoration and adaptive- reuse, and the sensitive use of materials and ecology.”

Big River Crossing’s lighting by Philips Lighting, Inc. was singled out for successfully ensuring visibility from a distance while providing the opportunity to decorate the bridge with vibrant arrangements that compliment local and national events, holidays and civic causes.

At approximately 1-mile long, Big River Crossing is the country’s longest active bike-pedestrian rail bridge and the longest public pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River. It serves as the centerpiece of Main Street to Main Street, a 10-mile multi-modal corridor between Memphis, TN and West Memphis, AR. The bridge is open daily to the public from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

While the active rail bridge serves as the canvas for these displays, the lighting is only mounted on the pedestrian walkway. The jury praised the “dynamic algorithm that makes light move naturally along the bridge as a translation of the behaviors of the Mississippi River.”

Big River Crossing is part of an esteemed group of 79 winners that were chosen out of a shortlist of 300 skyscrapers, corporate headquarters, governmental buildings, science and technology centers, transportation centers, airports, hotels, parks, pavilions, restorations and renovations, retail facilities, housing projects, private homes, schools, universities, art, cultural and health buildings, urban planning and landscape architecture, interiors, and other humanitarian and educational initiatives. 

"The Chicago Athenaeum believes that The American Architecture Awards serve the direct and distinct purpose of promoting good design as a vehicle to further enlighten the general public's understanding and knowledge about architecture and the design arts," states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, President of the Chicago Athenaeum. 

“The winning projects are each stunning and provocative new additions to their urban and rural locations-authentic connections to nature and to the very cultures in which they coexist,” said Narkiewicz-Laine.

“The selected projects have a positive psychological effect on the communities in which they are built and in which they serve-every detail looks handcrafted; every facade contextualized; every plan, diagram, and section particularly and exquisitely well executed.”

Key members of the Philips Lighting, Inc. team behind Big River Crossing will be honored at a gala hosted by the Orlando Museum of Art this April 27.

This summer, The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre will present an exhibition that will feature Big River Crossing. The exhibition, titled “New American Architecture,” will open in Athens.

Click here to read The Chicago Athenaeum's spotlight on Big River Crossing.

Click here to see the full list of 2017 American Architecture Award winners.

Photos courtesy of Big River Crossing and Philips Lighting.

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