Excellence in Design Top Honor Award for Big River Crossing

Big River Crossing is the new place to celebrate being a Memphian, and it's not just Memphians who recognize the exciting transformation of the historic Harahan Bridge. The non-profit Waterfront Center in Washington, DC has awarded Big River Crossing its Excellence in Design Top Honor Award for 2017, placing Memphis on an esteemed list of international projects that have won the award over the past 30 years.

On hand to receive the award on behalf of Charlie McVean and all the people who made this project happen, were U.S. Representative Steve Cohen, without whose active participation the project could not have succeeded, and Virginia McLean of Friends for Our Riverfront, which nominated the project for the international award.

For the past 30 years, the Waterfront Center has recognized the best work that celebrates our relationship to Earth's water resources across the globe. Delighted by the combined use of Memphis's Harahan Bridge as both an active rail line and bicycle/pedestrian crossing, the 2017 jury, led by chairman Bill Wenk (Wenk Associates, Denver, CO) sited:

  • its importance as an historic resource,
  • the 80,000 lights that produce nightly patterns and can be programmed to commemorate specific civic events,
  • the complexity of the project which required coordination between two states, two counties, two cities, and two state department of transportation as well as compliance with US Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration, the TN Historic Preservation Office, and Union Pacific Railroad guidelines,
  • its role as a critical component in a system of public parks and greenways with the potential to line the entire Memphis waterfront,
  • its role as a catalyst for a 1700 acre park adjacent to the bridge on the AR side and a trail head in on-going plans for a national biking and hiking trail along the entire MS River levee system.

Memphis has been added to an esteemed list. Some of the past Top Honor Excellence in Design Award winners include: Buffalo Bayou Park in Houston, TX; Marine Science and Technology Center in NYC; Wuxi Grand Canal in Wuxi, China; Jellicoe Street, North Warf Promenade and Silo Park, Aukland, New Zealand; and Maya Lin's Confluence Project along the Columbia River.  For a database of past winners, click HERE.

A recent article gives a brief history of the Waterfront Center. Click HERE.