In the news: as #GloucesterMA Annisquam River Bridge readies for MBTA rebuild – is there time for design?

I don’t suggest that the treacherous bridge needs to be “preserved” or want to impede progress. However, I believe there is still time to repeat my pleas (since 2012). Great design impacts future investment. Is there a small way that the design can tip its hat to Edward Hopper, Gloucester, and New England for this landmark and beacon for Cape Ann, this cherished vista across the Great Marsh?

See GMG POST September 9, 2017 for design nod aesthetic suggestions (rather than structural) The budget is good!  “Does the MBTA new design for the Annisquam River Bridge look like a prison tower to you?” 

Here’s how the bridge and new condos looked November 9, 2018 (double click to enlarge photos from the wordpress mosaic format)

 

 

January 8, 2019 article by Ray Lamont Gloucester Daily project. “READYING FOR REBUILD”

the design plans illustrated are the same as published previously

gloucester daily times ray lamont coverage new annisquam commuter bridge january 2019

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Does the #MBTA new design for the #Annisquam River bridge look like a prison tower to you?

MBTA Gloucester bridge sim

The tower and the scale of the concrete column brought to mind the opening scenes of Dr. Zhivago with Alec Guinness looking for his niece. Here’s a TCM film clip to give you some idea of what I mean despite cutting off right before the pan up to the guard tower.

Dr Z still

 

Here’s how the Annisquam bridge looks today.

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Mostly great gorgeous marsh.

Its scale suits the site and often disappears. American artist Edward Hopper painted a close up in 1923.

landscape-with-bridge-watercolor-whitney1

There are four significant Edward Hopper artworks that are related to the commuter train he took from NYC to Gloucester, MA. I sent the images to Fay Spofford & Thorndike for their reference as in my professional experience any architects and engineers that I’ve worked with were keen on historic links. They couldn’t have known this one. Until I corrected the records in 2011, the Hopper watercolor was misattributed as an unidentified landscape, likely Maine or Massachusetts. It’s definitely Massachusetts–the Annisquam River train bridge in Gloucester, MA, to be precise. If you live here, you know that scene by heart. Hopper captured most every gateway to Gloucester. A 2012 photograph by Allegra Boverman reporting on bridge damage for the Gloucester Daily Times, zoomed in just so, helped me illustrate the match.

Catherine Ryan identifying Edward Hopper Annisquam River Bridge

I also shared the exciting Hopper news and connections with then Mayor Kirk, community development, Senator Tarr, the Gloucester Daily Times, and the Boston Globe. I wasn’t speaking to them about the design as I felt the state and the architects and engineers would be on that.

I have no idea when that distinct yellow shack–a mini me Cape Ann motif– was no longer there: perhaps it could be recreated, or a nod to the A Piatt Andrew bridge could be referenced with some planning? Maybe some of the diagonals of the old structure, or some other New England elements at the abutment sides could be incorporated into the design?

A couple of years later, I found an old Good Morning Gloucester post by Fredrik D. Bodin. There’s no mistaking that two level shack! I wish I could have spoken with him about the Curtis photograph.

a8767_017wm FRED BODIN little yellow house motif like and new england building on right

I don’t suggest that the treacherous bridge needs to be “preserved” or want to impede progress.  However, if there is a small way that the design can tip its hat to Hopper, Gloucester, New England…why not? It is a landmark, a beacon for Cape Ann.  It’s very exciting that the project is going out to bid. I hope the winning firm mitigates the design to temper any possible prison comparison. Leave the pier-column design but adjust the tower? Can it be both structurally sound and inspiring?

What if Edward Hopper couldn’t take the train? MBTA train closure mitigation forum June 5 City Hall Gloucester

MBTA Mitigation Public Forum June 5 at 6:30pm in Gloucester City Hall-Kyrouz 2nd floor

landscape with bridge watercolor whitney

One of the most celebrated and beloved American artists of the twentieth century, Edward Hopper, frequently traveled by public rail from New York to Gloucester. Usually it’s fairly simple to experience Gloucester as Hopper and other notables did–by train and on foot. Hopper walked to lodgings just a short jaunt from the train station in downtown Gloucester and to the many sites he sketched and painted. The result was more than 110 works of art, including views of the Annisquam River Bridge to Cape Ann, the boarding house in downtown where he stayed, the railroad gates, and numerous other subjects still visible.

Today, the MBTA route that Hopper took not only serves weekday commuters, but brings visitors to this historic port. Trains connect New England history, the arts, and natural beauty. Summer or winter, trains make it easy to reach a beach, historical site, or favorite restaurant, to get out of the bustle and enjoy lingering in our coastal towns. They offer a real allure, crossing some of the most incredibly scenic vistas of our special New England landscape, and seasonally charming riders.

There’s no question that planned closures in the busiest of seasons will have negative impact for commuters and visitors. Desperate infrastructure needs will regrettably impede long lasting economic developments tied to Massachusetts’ cultural assets, out door recreation opportunities, and other attractions. The necessary closures do offer an opportunity to think about how to increase MBTA ridership including promoting New England’s historical, artistic and natural riches–MBTA as “Massachusetts’ green go-Between for the Train and Arts scene.”

photo captions: There are more than 110 Edward Hopper works of art inspired by Gloucester, MA. Four reference trains: that’s how he rolled. Above Untitled Edward Hopper drawing in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art (catalogue “Landscape with Bridge.”) It is Gloucester, MA. I hope the new bridge design can add a little yellow bridge house reference. Below: Allegra Boverman, Gloucester Daily Times,  2012.

Sign up for city notices like this News Flash from Chris Sicuranza, Office of the Mayor Romeo Theken, posted on May 30, 2017:allegra

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