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Call for All Artists! California's Bay Bridge May Have a...

Call for All Artists! California's Bay Bridge May Have a Life Beyond Demolition After All

It has been announced that salvaged steel from the old Bay Bridge will be recycled into public art and incorporated into various history projects throughout California. Supervised by the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), the Bay Bridge Steel Program was created in response to the community’s growing concerns surrounding the fate of the pieces from

Bay Bridge East span deconstruction, Bay Area, California, San Francisco and Oakland

It has been announced that salvaged steel from the old Bay Bridge will be recycled into public art and incorporated into various history projects throughout California. Supervised by the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), the Bay Bridge Steel Program was created in response to the community’s growing concerns surrounding the fate of the pieces from the deconstructed bridge. A selection committee with expertise in structural engineering, public art, art administration, landscape architecture, and the history of the bay bridge will review proposals and then award out steel to winning projects. The steel will be taken from the second phase of the demolition process beginning this summer. Once steel members are salvaged from the site, they will be repaired and cleaned to a standard that is safe for use in the proposed projects.

The project hopes to engage artists, architects, planners, and other design professionals to immortalize and celebrate the eastern span. Pieces of the bridge may be incorporated into sculptural art, architectural designs, street furniture, and other public amenities. In order to get their hands on a piece of the bridge, applicants are required to submit a project narrative, the bridge elements they wish to use, proven ability to realize the project, images of the proposed project, and images of their previous work.

Bay Bridge East span, Bay Area, California, San Francisco and Oakland

Projects are asked to:

  • Support the creative reuse of the Bay Bridge’s steel which will be installed in sites that are accessible to the public within California.
  • Support that the material being used will serve as a reference to the original span.
  • Create a public connection with the bridge’s history through useful amenities or artworks.
  • Demonstrate the ability to successfully complete and fund the project from fabrication to installation.

It seems that the program already has an interested community of artists and designers. During the initial stages of the bridge’s deconstruction, the Founder of American Steel Studios, Karen Cusolito, started a campaign in support of the creative reuse of the Bay Bridge’s steel. Set in an artist community which has taken up shop in an old West Oakland steel plant, the studio views the act of sending the pieces to a recycling yard as a disservice to the bridge’s history and the surrounding community. The website includes a petition and space for artists and the community to share their ideas for the fate of the steel if it were to be salvaged.

Bay Bridge east span steel members, Bay Area, California, San Francisco, Oakland

The Bay Bridge House Project holds a similar perspective in the form of a sustainable eco-house constructed from pieces of the dismantled bridge. Using elements such as steel I-beams, girders, and trusses, the house would be integrated with solar panels, a green roof, and a rainwater reclamation system. Through the reuse of its members in projects such as these, a historical link connecting communities and future generations to the history and memory of the Bay Bridge could continue throughout California.   

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, deadlines are issued dependent upon the amount of steel available after each phase:

  • Deadline for Group A:  October 1, 2015
  • Deadline for Group B:  May 2, 2016
  • Deadline for Group C:  December 1, 2016

What projects would you like to see emerge from the salvaged materials of the Bay Bridge? What are some other examples of projects utilizing reclaimed materials? Has your city reused historically relevant construction materials for other uses? Share your thoughts and your community's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Lauren Golightly. Data linked to sources.

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