New Narberth Avenue Bridge to Feature Site-Specific Art Installations

The Narberth Avenue Bridge is designed by Venturi Scott Brown, but wants ornamentation that draws out civic pride.

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

The artistic element will be installed in the long yellow strip | Design: VSBA/Narberth Borough

Narberth Borough has put out a request for qualification (RFQ) for “an artist to create a site-specific, integrated artistic enhancement in conjunction with the construction of the new Narberth Avenue bridge,” according to its website.

The bridge has reached the end of its useful life and to show how important the look of this span is to the borough, they’ve brought in Venturi Scott Brown (VSBA) to assist Pennoni Engineers in its design. “We envisioned the bridge both as a connector between the downtown and residential neighborhood and as a gateway between them — as well as an opportunity to enhance the borough’s identity,” according to the project description on VSBA’s website.

On top of that, Narberth wants this project to stand out and harken back to a time when infrastructure projects were a big deal:

“The hope is that the project can draw inspiration from the time when infrastructure was a matter of civic pride and when ornamentation was considered an integral part of building projects, to commemorate or communicate important civic concepts or narratives.”

So where will the new art be placed? The design sets aside two, 54′ by 3′ interior stone bands that are elevated 3′ over the sidewalk, so that they are not obscured by concrete barriers. After all, they want everyone to see these pieces. The chosen artist will have a budget of $35,000, which includes the cost of creating the piece, but not its installation. According to the RFQ: “Artists are encouraged to explore a range of languages, including abstract and representational, for a frieze that would set into these spaces.”

Artists are asked to submit any questions by August 15, with the deadline for responses set for September 4. A Selection Committee, established by Narberth Borough, will then whittle the field down to three finalists, with the winning design chosen in December.

Cheryl Allison of Main Line Times reports that construction for the main bridge project is expected to start in early 2016 and the timeline listed in the RFQ lists the delivery of the artistic element as September 2016, so everything is coming together quickly, even if the seeds for the overall project were planted way back in 2010.

You can view the full Narberth Avenue Bridge Artistic Enhancement Project, Artist Request for Qualifications here.