Business & Tech

Big ideas (and lots of them) for the Northern Avenue Bridge

The aging bridge is replaced with an elevated civic space in this rendering from the contest.
+(plus) Bridge/Boston Northern Avenue Bridge Competition
The aging bridge is replaced with an elevated civic space in this rendering from the contest.

Steel girders lined with trees.

An island in Fort Point Channel.

A series of small parks.

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A swooping “plus” sign.

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Those were a few of the concepts for a new Northern Avenue Bridge chosen by city officials and Boston-area architects in an Ideas Competition that wrapped up Wednesday.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Tamara Roy, president of the Boston Society of Architects awarded $15,000 in prize money — and a spotlight on their visions — to the best submissions in a citywide contest. The competition was intended to i.nspire a replacement for the century-old bridge, which is closed for safety reasons and due to be dismantled this summer.

In all, the city received 133 entries. There were images ranging from hand-drawn pictures to sophisticated computerized renderings, along with 34 essays. While many called for reuse of the historic steel-frame bridge — after it’s dismantled it will be stored while a new bridge is designed — some did not.

Many suggested a bridge for walkers and bikers and a few proposed opening it to cars. Most incorporated green space or public amenities. A handful of submissions suggested no bridge at all.

26northernave- One of the winners for North Ave Bridge graphic design submission: The Northern Avenue Botanical Bridge serves as an armature for pedestrian travel and a greenhouse where botanical gardens flourish year round. (The Northern Avenue Botanical Bridge/Boston Northern Avenue Bridge Competition)
The Northern Avenue Botanical Bridge/Boston Northern Avenue Bridge Competition
One of the winners for North Ave Bridge graphic design submission: The Northern Avenue Botanical Bridge serves as an armature for pedestrian travel and a greenhouse where botanical gardens flourish year round.

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From those entries, a volunteer jury selected four winners for visual submissions and two for essays.

It also named two honorable mentions. Another entry — dubbed Pivot Point Bridge, a modern take on the current swinging Northern Avenue Bridge — won the People’s Choice award through online voting.

“By opening this competition up to the public, we heard from architects, designers, historians, and members of our community who took an interest in what the future of the Northern Ave. Bridge should look like,” Walsh said in a statement. “The ideas and conversation that we sparked during the process are tremendously valuable as we take the next step to design a new bridge, and I thank all who participated.”

Now city engineers will get to work soliciting more official design proposals for the bridge, which they hope to issue later this summer. Chris Osgood, the city’s chief of streets, said the competition provided “several guiding principals” to consider as they do that, including “a multimodal bridge that would welcome pedestrians, cars, and cyclists.”

“A successful design would also create a unique destination, not just a bridge, that improves connectivity between the Seaport and the Greenway,” he said.

The Pivot Point Bridge, a modern take on the current swinging Northern Avenue Bridge, won the People’s Choice award through online voting.
Pivot Point Bridge/Boston Northern Avenue Bridge Competition
The Pivot Point Bridge, a modern take on the current swinging Northern Avenue Bridge, won the People’s Choice award through online voting.

Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.