We all are moving ahead towards our destination every day even though we may not know where exactly that destination is. This is not a bad thing. Like the newly constructed bridge in the Northeastern University campus. It is yet to be used by students but it gives them a place to wonder about.
In terms of efficiency, the new pedestrian bridge was built to connect the two ends of campus (as well as the Roxbury and Fenway neighbourhoods of Boston) along a path that is better suited to crossing the railroad tracks than, say, the Columbus Avenue garage in the Northeastern University. The garage is dark and filled with cars. Whereas the bridge is bathed in light and the air is fresh. Now everyone uses it and it is so much better than the previous route which the students had to take.
Designed by the architecture firm Payette, the structure is provocative. The rectangular walls of rustic steel, embedded with copper, will mature to a dark, thick brown as the bridge ages. What will not change is its pragmatic design of swerving, sloping curves that enable you to slalom over the tracks and between the campus buildings.
You can’t see where you are going, where the path is taking you. The high steel walls, -each inscribed with its own weather-drawn pattern of lines, leaves you wondering what is on the other side. Through the cracks, the light comes in and the light takes you forward. The light reaches in from between the steel panels, encouraging you to stop momentarily for sites that might otherwise be taken for granted—the skyline of Back Bay, the extended tracks like fallen ladders, the comings and goings of the rickety subway, and the powerful Amtrak trains. There are dogs taking a walk with their owners and barking at the passers-by.
By limiting the view ahead, the bridge transforms into an artwork that makes you think about where you are at present instead of thinking about the future. During this quick walk, a couple of minutes maybe, it’s the bridge’s idiosyncrasies that make you focus on the here and now. During a thunderstorm, the rainwater flows down to the steps of the centre of campus. The colours are fascinating and it is a piece of art. It was long due, the need for the bridge on the campus. It is a pathway that makes the journey worthwhile.