Oregon and Washington's governors revealed today the eight people who will review the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project for two months in response to criticism over the cost and impact of the project. The governors list the review committee's tasks as assessing the CRC's budget, implementation and post-construction performance measures, but NOT, as local leaders wanted, other ideas altogether for how to design the big bridge.
Last month, a group of Portlanders interested in design and architecture called PDXplore organized what amounted to their own independent review of the CRC project: a week-long symposium bringing together international designers, CRC staff and local architects to discuss the $3 billion bridge to Vancouver and its impact on the Portland region.
The diverse designers' take on the CRC was universally damning.
Former Director of the National Endowment for the Arts Maurcie Cox had an eloquent perspective during one panel discussion:
This project does not represent the progressive, innovative values this region is known for. Everyone knows that something is terribly wrong. The question is how do we move forward. There is a need for a larger vision. And that larger vision is not going to come from those who have been chosen to advance the Columbia River Crossing. It’s going to come from the citizens of both states. It’s going to be a ground up process.
"This is a bridge back to the 20th century," lamented Stanford history professor Richard White.
"I come here and I look at 22 lanes of flying concrete across that island and I say how was the problem mystified in such a way that this became the solution? Because it’s a pretty horrible situation," said Pulitzer Prize winning architecture critic Robert Campbell.
Wow. Listen to a whole recording of the independent design panel here. And check out the photos below to see what a REAL independent review panel looks like.