The journey out of Denver west on the I-70 is a beautiful and scenic drive, but it's also one that's fraught with peril for drivers, and more importantly, for wildlife. The corridor between Denver and the resort communities of Vail, Aspen and Breckenridge, is an important migration path for black bears, cougars, bobcats, deer and an array of other animals, but over time, this area has become an increasingly dangerous place for them to cross. To bring some relief to the animals, a number of architects have designed the next generation of innovative wildlife crossings that are both attractive, effective and appropriately landscaped with native vegetation.
The ARC International Wildlife Crossing Design Competition asked architects and designers to come up with beautiful and compelling designs able to meet the needs and improve the safety for both the people and the wildlife. The competition also highlighted the desire to implement solutions that used materials that would give way to less costly infrastructure improvements.
In the last 15 years, vehicle-wildlife collisions have increased by 50%, posing dangers for both the wildlife and humans, and ultimately costing Americans $8 billion annually. The competition sought to generate feasible design solutions geared specifically for the I-70 highway corridor West of Denver and just after the Vail Pass, as well as ideas that could be implemented all over North America.
Five architects and their teams were selected as finalists this last week and include, Janet Rosenberg & Associations from Toronto, HNTB Engineering with Michael Van Valkenburgh & Associates from New York, The Olin Studio from Philadelphia, Zwarts & Jansma from Amsterdam, and Balmori Associates of New York. Many of the designs follow a similar pattern of a large landscaped bridge that crosses the interstate and funnels wildlife across a safe path. Some of the finalists include modular and prefabricated construction as well as techniques used for green roof plantings.