Sean A. Gallagher
The city of Charlotte desired to connect the Uptown community with the Southend Art District by proposing a development that bridges over highway loop I-277. Currently the highway physically splits the two districts of Charlotte obstructing mainly the pedestrian and trolly traffic which once vitalized the city streets.
The design proposal attempts to seamlessly stitch together over I-277 the physical and social environments of Uptown and Southend Charlotte by reinterpret existing conditions into a visual composition of planes and edges that are expressive of significant boundaries found within this site's past and present, while remaining sympathetic to the types of enclosures necessary for both the pedestrian and vehicle traffic. It is an architecture developed through the recognition of contextual issues interpreted into multimedia graphic data, layered into three dimensional space.
The program was separated into elements that required similar space and placement within the site. These elements became seven different types of objects to initiate composition studies; vertical markers, threading walls, framed perspectives, massing blocks, spatial clusters, and linear strips. Small concept models were used to investigate multiple combinations and the resulting contextual relationships.
_Orient overall composition to capture prominent views of the NFL Stadium, Uptown Skyline, and Southend industrial environment.
_Create a dialogue between the highway and the development by incorporating visual references to gateway experiences observable at the speed of a car.
_Incorporate the vista down Tryon Street Mall and the presence of the American City Building.
_Respect the necessity for enclosure, creating a sense of enclosure for pedestrian traffic.
Each piece of the project within this composition reflects the attitude of its associated program and makes a gesture towards the surrounding context. The anchor building places its structure into the middle of I-277, visually pulling itself towards the Uptown district to address the need for the city to conceptually close this division, while creating a gateway experience for the vehicle passing underneath. The spiral office tower’s form displays a circular motion reflective of the energy created by the collision of opposing traffic patterns while capturing panoramic views of the newly connected Uptown and Southend districts for its corporate users. Finally, the bridge is occupied by retail and entertainment spaces shielding the pedestrian from the highway velocity below with enclosed plazas that focus on the street life and towering buildings above.
There is no ideal answer to the problem, only a proposal. This approach never attempted to search for a solution, rather became the search to find motion and balance in the composition of diverse elements defined by the program. It was an intellectual endeavor attempting to discuss a design strategy where drawings and models are not representation of a solution, but abstractions of an idea.