NEWPORT — A year after the Rhode Island School of Design and Bike Newport used virtual reality to imagine a bike- and pedestrian-friendly way to cross from Jamestown to Newport, a larger-scale version of the same exhibit has made its debut. way to Newport for residents to consider a multimodal Pell Bridge.
“Yes, we can cross a bike/pedestrian path (Pell Bridge) like they did to cross the St. Lawrence to Montreal, and all the other big bridges in the world, but we can also do something different. experiential is what RISD students and faculty open our eyes to and give us a chance to experience first-hand,” said Bari Freeman, Executive Director of Bike Newport. “It’s very real, it’s very accessible… It’s time to have that conversation.”
This interactive experience is actually the second iteration of the “Crossing the Pell” project produced by Rhode Island School of Design students in 2021 and was under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It uses virtual reality and augmented reality to present four different possibilities, or schemes, for a pedestrian and bicycle path under the current carriage span of the bridge.
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Last year, the expo was smaller and held in the John Mason Building of the RISD Center for Integrative Technologies. However, with additional funding provided by the Champlin Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, the Bazarsky Family Foundation and Reynold deWaltz Printing, RISD and Bike Newport have been able to expand the exhibit into a much larger public event, to be held on 3 december. and 4 at the Old Colony House in Newport.
“These patterns are normally described in very small architectural drawings that no one can understand,” said Professor Liliane Wong, who heads the interior design department. “The idea here is to engage the community and make the information accessible to everyone.”
At the Old Colony House, exhibit visitors will be able to navigate the four different designs for a possible Pell Bridge cycle and pedestrian bridge using a VR headset and stationary bike or by walking in a designated space while others watch a projection of the experience at the same time. Visitors can also use an iPad and an augmented reality program to see what it would be like to walk along the different versions of the bridge.
In addition to the RISD students who created the project, two students from Rogers High School are also helping with the exhibit on Saturday and Sunday, Freeman said, and RISD and Bike Newport also purchased two children’s bikes to give away during the exhibit. .
“It’s so important to have all of these connections,” Freeman said. “The beautiful thing about this is that it demonstrates that all the things we know are the most effective ways to progress. Collaboration, involvement with schools, these are things that help us move things forward and give us the tools to imagine new solutions. That’s the promise in there.
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The four different versions of the bridge come from four different teams of students, each of which incorporates features unique to the pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Two of these visions for a possible Pell Bridge walkway focus on the walkway’s potential to function as a community space. One project proposes a “mini-town” under the main stretch of the bridge, with shops, toilets, cafes and playgrounds, while another transforms part of the bridge into a screen, creating the largest theater in open air of the world visible from a boat or a form a new floating amphitheater.
The other two programs incorporate environmental and sustainability messages into their designs. One pays homage to Newport’s fishing industry by using safety nets on the sides of the walkway and including a fish market at the entrance to the bridge. The other proposes using solar and pedestrian kinetic energy to harvest electrical energy, which could be given to North End residents.
“They were very big on social equity,” Wong said. “It was nice to see the different projects that came out.”
Since there are no current proposals to add bike and pedestrian lanes to the bridge, Freeman hopes this exhibit will inspire Newport residents to think about the possibilities such an addition to the Pell Bridge could provide. As a member of the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, which recently released the draft of the city’s new transportation master plan, Freeman said the exhibit encompasses much of the aspirations behind what the plan director seeks to achieve.
“The bridge comes up in all conversations about the future of our transportation, especially about the distribution of modal split,” Freeman said. “What’s happening now is we’re able to put people in an environment where they can start talking about it with real experience.”
After the expo closes on Sunday, the experience will be available at other satellite locations, such as the Newport Public Library and Bike Newport for those who missed it. Freeman hopes to find a way to install the technology in local community spaces or package it in a way that schools and other organizations can borrow for later use.
“We want this to continue,” Freeman said. “Our goal is really to keep going, to keep bringing this to people because it’s too cool to miss it, and it’s very inspiring.”
The exhibition takes place on Saturday, December 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, December 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pre-registration for specified arrival times is encouraged, but not required, at CrossingthePell.eventbrite.com.
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