Announced in Washington DC the ARC jury of internationally-respected professionals with expertise in design, ecology, and engineering selected entry ‘hypar-nature’ led by HNTB with Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates as the winner of the ARC International Design Competition.
The ARC Wildlife Crossing Competition challenged interdisciplinary design teams to create the next generation of wildlife crossing structures for North America’s roadways. The four inter-related objectives for the competition included:
- Provide an avenue for international teams of design professionals to address new design challenges in the coalescent issues of road transportation safety, structural engineering, wildlife conservation and landscape ecology;
- Explore creative new approaches, materials, and designs that address the fundamentals of transportation engineering and ecology;
- Increase the number of potential solutions for cost efficient, innovative crossing designs that can be adapted for widespread use in other locations; and,
- Engage design professionals and students in the interdisciplinary nature of road ecology with a real-time, in-situ application.
HNTB + MVVA Team Members: HNTB Engineering, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. Landscape Architects PC, Applied Ecological Services Competition Timeline: September 2010 – January 2011 Renderings and Drawings: HNTB and Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc.
The site selected for the design competition was West Vail Pass on I-70 in Colorado, about 90 miles west of Denver. West Vail Pass was chosen as the site of the wildlife crossing from among 25 candidates from 16 states across North America. Colorado’s I-70 corridor is considered to be a significant barrier to wildlife movement because it is the only east–west interstate providing for the movement of people, goods, and services across the state and bisects a critical habitat linkage in the Southern Rocky Mountain region. The primary goals of the competition were to re-imagine how we create structures to ensure the safe mobility of humans and wildlife by allowing them to coexist, and to inspire the next generation of wildlife crossing structures. On January 23rd, 2011, at the Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference, the ARC jury of internationally respected professionals with expertise in design, ecology, and engineering selected unanimously the HNTB + MVVA Team as the competition winner.
The hypar-nature design concept combines design, ecology, and engineering into a solution that is both cost effective and elegantly simple. At the core of the design concept is the realization that this landscape is not for humans. Rather than allowing the primarily visual, aesthetic drivers of landscape design to determine form, the hypar-nature bridging system is inspired by the demands of ecological engineering. Instead of attempting to recreate the surrounding nature, the design distills the adjacent landscapes and habitats, condenses and amplifies multiple landscape bands (Forest, Meadow, Shrub, Scree) across the structure, and then extends these bands into habitat corridors that provide connections for a larger cross-section of species. The structure itself is composed of modular precast concrete hyperparaboloid (hypar) forms that allows for minimal site disturbance and easy creation, assembly, and deployment, and can be expanded or adapted as migration pressures dictate.
While the competition focused on the West Vail Pass site, the HNTB + MVVA design concept is envisioned as a prototype for a regional network of wildlife overpasses that addresses larger-scale habitat fragmentation and represents the first phase of reconciling the mobility of humans and wildlife. By combining a flexible structural solution with an adaptable approach to broad landscape management, the hypar-nature design concept offers a new vision for addressing habitat fragmentation. The flexibility and efficiency of the bridge’s structural component makes it extremely suitable for widespread use, and its minimally invasive construction allows it to be adapted to any location.
In order to address the complex conflict between roads and wilderness, three-dimensional solutions are required. Hypar-nature untangles the conflicting demands of human and animal transportation by bridging both under and over the road, by layering both driver experience and animal preferences, and by pursuing an adaptable framework for both vegetal and structural systems. In this new prototype of landscape and structural collaboration, the performative ground can extend from a light-touch footing to a regional land management strategy.
Furthermore, this design is meant not only to physically stitch together a fragmented habitat, but also to unite the various constituencies that will ultimately be responsible for the success of preserving the Rocky Mountain wildlife. Success lies in the connection with the general population that can be attained through outreach and education. One of the competition requirements was the integration of a wildlife viewing platform. Rather than relying on a single, physical observation point for any one bridge, the design includes the development of a digital observation platform would enable the public to observe a series of overpasses in real-time, as well as access information on particular species, habitats, and changes in migration behavior. By creating a more accessible digital platform the intent is to allow the public to engage with the science of ecosystem adaptive management, the design would work toward a shift in society’s approach to operating in wild lands.
The ARC competition short-listed five, world-class, interdisciplinary teams to develop concept designs for a wildlife crossing structure at Colorado’s West Vail Pass along I-70. The finalists’ designs can be seen here in the ARC video.