Elyse Oliver, Bridge Park 2015 Fall Intern
Choosing one word to describe my college education, I land on “inter-disciplinary.” As an international studies/sociology double major, minor in civil engineering, you can definitely say that I am covering all the bases. However, while my choices of three fields may seem disparate at first, they actually complement each other nicely. I plan to go into a career in urban planning, and understanding both the qualitative and the quantitative is something that comes with the territory.
For me, the striking thing about urban planning is its emphasis on solutions. An understanding of social relationships combines with knowledge of good structure in order to create revitalized and productive spaces. Key to successful design is recognizing the importance of the people living around planning site and their knowledge of community needs. However, developers have a history of neglecting local insight, opting to go into a community with an “I know best” mindset and seeking quarterly results. I was attracted to the 11th Street Bridge Park because of its clear separation from this approach. The 11th Street Bridge Park shaped itself through community-led planning. It was only after two years of community meetings with Anacostia and Capitol Hill residents that the bridge park started to take shape. The emphasis placed on participatory planning is paramount and makes the 11th Street Bridge Park and its team one of a kind.
I am also drawn to the 11th Street Bridge Park because of its focus on the future of the community once the bridge is complete in 2019. Design projects of this scale often result in increased property value, and with a range of residents from different socioeconomic backgrounds living around the bridge park site, it is especially important that those who contributed to the final product are still around to enjoy the benefits. This idea of equitable development is at the forefront of the 11th Street Bridge Park’s mind, yet construction hasn’t even started. While the 11th Street Bridge Park as an equitable public space is currently just a vision, designing with this in mind is sure to make it a reality.
Overall, I look forward to this semester and the ways I can contribute to the creation of the 11th Street Bridge Park. I am excited to learn how development teams create equitable public space, as it is something that I, too, want to dedicate my future to building.