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Four Mile Run Bridge (Not) Competition

I emailed a couple of questions to the Four Mile Bridge Competition,  but no response yet.

Reading the competition requirements more closely, the steps are.

  1. Submit evidence you have the experience to design a bridge
  2. We will be the judge of that…
  3. Now three of you will get to submit bridge concepts and we will choose the winner.

Obviously this is not exactly the way they phrase it but essentially it is the process they have chosen. How is this a bridge competition, well they will pick from three designs….

My problem with this system is you only get the big players in the competition. I could probably meet the minimum qualifications for the first step but I doubt I could match portfolios for the second step. (How could I best all the work a company like Arup has constructed.)

So you will never see anything but three designs from the three finalists, who were picked based on previous projects and not on their concepts for this competition.

This does not seem like a way to pick a cool bridge. The system is obviously intended to produce a buildable bridge by a proven firm (or team).

What it is not, is a bridge competition.

(Process steps shown below the fold)

The first level of evaluation comes under the Technical Committee, which is comprised of representatives from the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (VT-WAAC), Arlington County, the City of Alexandria, and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC). The Technical Committee reviews all applicants for compliance with the qualification criteria. All the teams meeting the criteria move onto the next tier of evaluation.

The second level of evaluation is administered by the Evaluation Committee, which is made up of an Architect, Structural Engineer, Landscape Architect, and one representative each from the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center (VT-WAAC), Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria, and one Joint Task Force (JTF) member each from Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. A representative from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) will serve in an advisory role. The Evaluation Committee ranks the best entries from the pool of qualified applicants based on design excellence demonstrated in the portfolio to move onto the Selection Panel. To be considered are number of awards for excellence, number of bridge projects at the desired scale and professional standing of the assigned team leader are among the criteria to be used by the Evaluation Committee.

For the third level of evaluation, a representative from VT-WAAC invites the top three finalists from the ranked list to present their work and a conceptual design of the bridge in a public forum. A Selection Panel, comprised of three professionally recognized experts, chooses a final winning team based on their demonstrated ability to exceed the qualification criteria, inspire and communicate well to the public, and excel in design. The Boards and Commissions will have an opportunity to meet the finalists during the public forum.

2 thoughts on “Four Mile Run Bridge (Not) Competition

  1. Competitions which are invitation only aren’t that uncommon, although one where they invite only three designers certainly is. I agree that the overemphasis on experience in the submission criteria isn’t necessarily the best way to go for them, but I guess they need to arrange the process to bring out whatever they value most.

  2. I was disappointed (after Calgary) that the emphasis was on the firm’s experience and not the bridge concept.

    It is certainly the safest route, but I believe it will take away any chance of a “surprise” winner submitting a unique bridge concept. Obviously they will get a well designed bridge but the reviews will be, meh, its okay….

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