One year after announcing the project in his 2020 State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has finalized the selection of New York City-based SHoP Architects as the lead designer of the Brockport Loop Pedestrian Bridge in the northwestern part of the state. Located west of Rochester, the footbridge will cross the historic Erie Canal and increase pedestrian access to various parts of central Brockport, the SUNY Brockport campus, and the recently completed Empire State Trail.
SHoP’s pedestrian bridge constitutes one part of the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) $300 million investment in the so-called Reimagine the Canals Initiative, which aims to bolster environmental resilience while promoting tourism and economic development in communities situated along the canal.
After its initial completion in 1825, the Erie Canal connected Albany and the Hudson River in the east to the Great Lakes in the west, representing both an unprecedented feat of engineering and a critical piece of infrastructure for the transportation of goods. While the canal no longer offers the fastest and easiest route from the lakes to the river, state officials hope that its revitalization as a hub for tourism and outdoor recreation can boost local economies across the state.
An initial rendering released by SHoP and the state shows the new pedestrian bridge crossing the canal at the site of Brockport’s canal guard gate. Its curvilinear form will jut outward from the existing infrastructure, providing an effective viewing platform for visitors to the town. As NYPA president and CEO Gil Quinones pointed out, the proposal “employs contemporary design to highlight and complement the historic infrastructure of the town,” taking cues from the material and color composition of Brockport’s other canal bridges. The new bridge will join other recent additions to the town’s waterfront, including a kayak dock and spectator stands for future rowing events.
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, SHoP was selected “to leverage its experience with revitalizing aging urban infrastructure and further develop a context-sensitive conceptual design for the project.” The firm’s designers will be partnering with Arup, the chosen engineer of record, to break ground on the adaptive reuse project starting sometime in 2023.