MVVA has worked to reimagine an industrialized section of the Arkansas River near downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. The project connects a network of regional trails, the MVVA-designed Gathering Place park, a half-mile of recreational facilities on the western riverfront, and multiple infrastructural and flood prevention projects.
The Gateway Bridge, the centerpiece of this work and the first steel plate-arch bridge built in the United States, will connect more than sixteen miles of trails on both sides of the river. Other key elements include a reconstructed dam that will widen the river into a new “Zink Lake.” Designed by Jacobs Engineering Group, the dam will enhance fish habitats and moderate currents for safer recreational boating. South of the bridge, an adventure water park, engineered in collaboration with McLaughlin Whitewater Design Group, will provide a whitewater flume with seven drops plus pools for surfers, kayakers, and tubers.
The Gateway Bridge, designed by Schlaich Bergermann Partner and MVVA, will be supported by plasma-cut steel plates—each just a few inches thick—stretching between the 12 steel arches and the gently curving roadway. The undulating forms create the illusion of movement, a tribute to the history of steel frame bridges crisscrossing the Arkansas combined with innovative building technology and sculptural expression.
The steel plates will be positioned to provide a kind of syncopation along the bridge’s 1,200-foot length. Variations in the width of the deck will create generously scaled spaces for a range of uses, from open-air galleries for public art, to small performance spaces, to seating areas where pedestrians and cyclists can rest and enjoy views of Zink Lake, downtown Tulsa, and an uninterrupted two-mile stretch of the river. The bridge demonstrates how engineers, landscape architects, hydrologists, ecologists, and public and private stakeholders can work together to successfully solve twenty-first century urban problems.