Driving Innovation Forward with Crowdsourcing

Published Jun-01-15

Atlanta receives two novel and exciting bridge designs courtesy of open innovation.

Midtown Alliance, Atlanta and others, United States

The Story:

Driving Innovation Forward with Crowdsourcing The city of Atlanta, Georgia was on the hunt for novel designs to revitalize two of its bridges. To access a diverse talent pool and to find greater levels of inspiration, it decided to reach out to the crowd. The city set up the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition for creative concepts for the 10th Street Bridge and the Courtland Street/Ralph McGill Boulevard Bridge.

The intent was to attract multidisciplinary teams to come up with novel approaches for enhancing existing infrastructure and improving the travel experience for pedestrians and cyclists.

Call for Ideas

The first phase of the competition was a call for ideas and from this, five finalists were selected, three for 10th Street and two for Courtland/McGill. They were invited to further develop their concepts, including feasibility of implementation and had to consider a budget of up to $3 million.

Bold and Beautiful Designs

The winners were selected by a panel of industry experts who picked Max Neiswander and Luke Kvasnicka for their 10th Street Bridge design. Their crossing involves a series of curved steel ribs that fold over to provide a covered walkway for pedestrians, which will be illuminated at night.

The Courtland Street/Ralph McGill Boulevard Bridge winning design was dreamed up by Roger DeWeese and Peachtree Architects. It involves an ‘organic’ steel canopy covered with an open stainless steel netting mesh. The structure encompasses series of atria which includes a small performance space.

The two winning teams of this crowdsourcing architecture contest were awarded $8,000 each.

“This Bridgescape design competition allows us to tap into the best design talent and create a highly visible and lasting legacy for our City,” said Kevin Green, CEO and president of Midtown Alliance. “We believe it will be a model for subsequent phases of work that will enhance the Connector.”

The Connector is a concurrent section of interstates through the core of the city that covers approximately 5 miles (8 kilometers) and accommodates about 300,000 vehicles every day.

At the time of writing this article, the first phase of construction of the bridges is due to commence later in 2015.

There was also a separate People's Choice Award, and more than 3,000 people visited the contest website to vote with their mouse clicks.

Advantages of Crowdsourcing

The principle advantage of this crowdsourcing approach was in attracting a wider pool of talent and expertise. But there was an additional bonus in getting members of the public involved. Rather than just engaging a select group of legislatures, Atlanta officials were able to directly consult the citizens who will be affected by the outcome of the contest. They could get a good feel for their thoughts and preferences on bridge designs.

This is something that may feedback into future infrastructure projects, because this crowdsourcing initiative was one part of larger plan to improve the Atlanta Connector.

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