Houston Bridges Project connects communities

Houston • April 18, 2017

Houston First is spearheading a project that will transform a series of bridges connecting Downtown and Midtown with EaDo and Third Ward into dynamic mosaics.

The Houston Bridges Project uses photographs of the city taken by local schoolchildren to create pixelated mosaics on eight bridges over I-69 between Bell and Tuam streets. The photographs were taken as part of a project developed by Geoff Winningham and his wife, Janice Freeman, to showcase the vision and artistic skill of Houston youth. The images are included in a new book titled “In the Eyes of Our Children: Houston an American City.”

The work of 16 students — one on each side of the eight bridges — is being digitally pixelated and then transferred onto acrylic panels. Those panels are then being woven into the existing safety fencing that lines the bridge walkways. Installation began last week and will take several weeks to complete.

To make the Houston Bridges Project a reality, Houston First partnered with a consortium including Scenic Houston, TxDOT, HISD, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, SWA Group, Sparq 1200 and Winningham, who is a professor at Rice University.

As part of its mission to enhance the quality of life of Houstonians and elevate the city as a destination, Houston First initiated an effort to examine how the aesthetics of key transportation corridors could be improved. Following a request for qualifications, the organization coordinated a design competition in May 2016 and selected a proposal from SWA Group to incorporate art into the bridges.

While this is a pilot program for an initiative that could grow larger, these bridges in particular were chosen because they connect vital parts of the city — bridging Downtown and Midtown with historically underserved communities to the east and celebrating Houston’s rich diversity. As projects such as the redevelopment of Third Ward’s Emancipation Park are completed, this artwork will serve as a welcoming element to some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.