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UA’s Rainbow Bridge to be completed by 2010

Residents got to consider these new renderings of the proposed Rainbow Bridge over Interstate 10. Earlier plans by architect Rafael Viñoly generated some criticism.

Residents got to consider these new renderings of the proposed Rainbow Bridge over Interstate 10. Earlier plans by architect Rafael Viñoly generated some criticism.

The vote for color choice was too close to call last night for the $350 million Rainbow Bridge.

Town hall participants split between light orange and dark copper for the proposed arch that would suspend the Arizona Science Center over Interstate 10 and the Santa Cruz River. The polling will continue on the Internet.

The public more closely embraced the 50-foot-wide walkway on the roof of the center that replaced a much narrower previous design that renowned architect Rafael Viñoly described as a “catwalk.” Viñoly described the fabric covered walkway as a park setting that could have “kiosks of food, places to sit, and shading.”

People also liked Viñoly’s ideas to illuminate the 370-foot-tall arch with colored lights at night.

“To me, to be able to see a rainbow every evening would be wonderful,” said Teresa Toro, a Tucson native who is a counselor at the downtown Davis Bilingual Learning Center.

The town hall at the Berger Performing Arts Center unveiled design modifications Viñoly made in response to public reaction to his earlier design, where people complained about the stark white color, ungainly buildings at both ends, and unsightly views of the freeway.

Viñoly’s new design builds spiral pedestrian approach ramps into berms that blocks out the freeway. The landscape also partially shelters the IMAX theater, planetarium and observatory that have been moved off the bridge and onto land at both ends.

The audience largely welcomed the Rainbow Bridge. However, a large number also leaned more toward history than futuristic design.

“To me this just overwhelms anything we want to see,” said Gayle Hartmann, president of the Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation. “I would like to see something more European, something low, with tiles.”

Viñoly quickly countered that cities like Florence and Genoa sport architecture “10 times more overwhelming.”

“They live with contemporary stuff much more comfortably than we do,” said the New York architect who gained prominent attention for his World Trade Center proposal that ultimately was not picked.

Viñoly designed the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, the new home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, long regarded as one of the leading American orchestras; the Boston Convention Center; and art museums in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. What attracted him to Tucson?

“This place is just unbelievable,” Viñoly said in an interview. “It’s an open-ended place, the land and how you respect it and enhance it. The desert is an atmosphere that drives you into a different attitude.”

Viñoly derived the arch idea from the many natural arches he has encountered in Arizona plus a rainbow he experienced in Flagstaff.

“I was struck that it rains like this (he snaps his fingers) and it stops like this (snap) and every time it stops you see this – what is it called – rainbow,” he said.

The University of Arizona’s intention is to build the Rainbow Bridge from early 2007 to early 2010 to coincide with I-10 widening, which will close the freeway during that time span.





To vote on whether the Rainbow Bridge should be light orange or dark copper, go to www.flandrau.org

UASC fly-through (Quicktime), http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/media/122105UASCmov

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