Washington, D.C., Could Get Its Own Massive High Line-Like Park

Making use of old piers, the proposed Anacostia Crossing could mark its own milestone in urban green space.

New York City’s High Line park, which first opened in 2009, showed how cities can reuse old infrastructure for inspiring new purposes. Previously, officials might have torn down old railroads and freeways. Now, they imagine all sorts of possibilities for re-purposing.


The latest example is a design for a new bridge spanning the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. It makes use of piers left behind when the Interstate 695 was reconstructed nearby and some day could become a $40 million park.

Backed by city government and private donors, the 11th Street Bridge Park group organized a design contest for the site, attracting 41 entries from studios around the world. The field was narrowed to four finalists before a jury selected the winner–a blueprint for the “Anacostia Crossing” from the firms OMA and Olin.

Several features make “Anacostia Crossing” stand out, not least its proposed size (the bridge is the length of three football fields, and much wider than the High Line). It has a X-shaped structure, like two swords coming together, allowing for two extensive lookout points on the upper level. Then there’s space for an amphitheater, hammock grove, environmental learning center, kayaking, and more. A waterfall area would take dirty river water and clean it, with inspiring images projected upon it (the renderings show abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass).

“At this moment, really all throughout the country, people are trying to grapple with what to do with post-industrial infrastructure spaces that are suddenly available for use by the public in ways that they weren’t before,” OMA’s Jason Long told the Washington Post.

The project’s aims include reconnecting communities on either side of the river and encouraging public health. But it faces financial obstacles before it can become a reality. Though the city has promised $14.5 million towards $25 million in construction costs, a further $15 million would be needed for operational expenses on top of that. We’ll have to wait until at least 2018 before seeing these nice pictures rendered in concrete and greenery.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.