Regional universities invited to submit designs for bridge serving Chattanooga production facility
Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC today joined RiverCity Company and the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Institute of Architects in announcing a student design competition to create a pedestrian bridge for Volkswagen’s new $1 billion production facility under construction in Chattanooga.
Students at five regional universities are invited to submit designs for the pedestrian bridge, which will connect Volkswagen’s on-site training facility with the plant and serve as the major entry point for both employees and visitors. The competition is intended to challenge students to work collaboratively and across disciplines in exploring innovative pedestrian bridge design that is both functional and memorable.
“At Volkswagen, we understand that our vehicles are more than a means of getting from Point A to Point B. They are designed to evoke emotion and awaken the senses of the driver. We want the same to be true of our bridge,” said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman, Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC. “Not only does the bridge physically connect employees and visitors with the plant, it symbolically connects Volkswagen with the community. That is what makes this student competition so appropriate.”
Graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in accredited design programs at University of Tennessee Chattanooga, University of Tennessee Knoxville, University of Memphis, Georgia Institute of Technology and Auburn University are eligible to enter the competition. Recent graduates from these programs not currently employed in the design professions are also eligible. A jury composed of design and engineering professionals will select the winning design that reflects the corporate values of Volkswagen and the traditions of the community. Prizes ranging from $500 to $2,500 will be awarded in January.
“At the core of this competition are values shared by both Volkswagen and Chattanooga: environmental responsibility and sustainability,” said Jan Spies, general manager of project engineering for the Chattanooga plant. “We challenge students to design a bridge that is sustainable in every possible aspect — technically, materially, constructively and culturally.”
The announcement was held at the Hunter Museum of American Art, the same venue where Volkswagen revealed in July 2008 its plan to build a U.S. production facility in Chattanooga. Just outside the doors of the Hunter Museum are two of Chattanooga’s most famous pedestrian bridges: the Walnut Street Bridge, built in 1890, is one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges; and the Holmberg bridge, a modern steel, glass and concrete bridge that links the Bluff View Arts District to the city. Both bridges act as important connectors, give a unique identity to the city and reflect the central role that design has played in the revitalization of the city.
“Volkswagen and Chattanooga understand that design is a powerful tool. It is both a noun and a verb; both artifact and action. Design has the capacity to connect the world of ideas to the world of things, to create objects and places of value that will last over time,” said Jon Coddington, Director of Urban Design and Planning, RiverCity Company. “It is difficult to think of a better client to be designing this bridge for than Volkswagen, and it is equally hard to imagine another mid-size city in the United States that can provide such design inspiration and context for this competition than does Chattanooga.”
Volkswagen Group of America Inc. will invest $1 billion in the local economy for the Chattanooga plant and create 2,000 direct jobs in the region. According to studies, the new Volkswagen plant is expected to generate $12 billion in income growth and an additional 9,500 jobs over the life of the project. The Chattanooga factory will build a new mid size sedan specially designed for the North American market. Approximately 30 percent of these cars will be powered by Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel Technology.
“This is a rare opportunity for students to be involved with a large, complex and real project. It is also an excellent opportunity for them to take part in the integration of two cultures for a major economic venture in the region,” said Heidi Hefferlin, AIA Chattanooga Competition Chair. “AIA Chattanooga and its membership are committed to connecting business with the local design community on both the academic and professional levels. We are pleased that Volkswagen has chosen to tap the creativity of the students in our region.”
- Volkswagen Group of America – Press Releases