Kanawha Plaza Air Bridge and Public Platform

The Kanawha Plaza Air Bridge and public platform is the missing link that connects the downtown Richmond urban fabric to the banks of the James River, directs pedestrians safely to a new vibrant city park, reorients the park to host important public events, and enlivens the Richmond city skyline.  

The cable stay structural system of the bridge contains 750 KW three wind turbines that provide power to light the tension cables at night and turn in the wind which make a symbolic connection to the turning basin which used to be located at the plaza site.  The bridge stanchions reach toward the sky and provide a backdrop to the new plaza stage platform which will house the best space in the city to host both social and political events.  To comply with the city’s master plan for the plaza, the existing Kanawha water feature fountain will be restored but will be framed by vegetation so visitors can “discover” the fountain.

Design Issues:

There are a few key urban design issues that the Air Bridge scheme  attempts to solve.  Due to the condition of the existing fountain and lawns, the plaza is underutilized and is difficult to access by pedestrians.  The plaza visually disconnected from down town and is disconnected from the banks of the James River.   Because the plaza is isolated, is largely abandoned and can attract crime.

Design Approach:

The Kanawha Plaza Air Bridge and public platform will create excitement for the plaza and add interest to the Richmond downtown skyline.  With better access to the site, better planted areas, and a multi use cast in place concrete platform, the plaza will be used for lectures or speakingevents public rallies and protests music / fine arts performances, urban farming, food truck events and farmer’s markets.            The new pedestrian bridge will re-orient the plaza and allow large groups of people to access the site for public events.   The cable stay bridge supports will have wind powered lighting that will illuminate the site a night and allow for events to take place after dark.  Even though the bridge and stage platform have a big visual impact, they can be considered a “small scale intervention”.        The design only touches the site in four places.  (1) the Elevator/stair on Byrd Street, (2) the Main Stage,  (3) elevator / stair at the main bridge stanchion, and (4) the elevator / stair on Canal Street.


The Kanawha Plaza Air Bridge and public platform is the ideal solution to reconnect this urban park to downtown Richmond and the history of the James River as well as create opportunities for multiple public events