Urban Improvements: Revitalizing Richmond’s Riverfront

RICHMOND, Va. — The clean, modern lines of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge provide a striking contrast against the backdrop of the wild James River and natural environment. The bridge represents a creative adaptive reuse of a former hydro-power dam that once harnessed power for riverfront industry along the river.

Today, the stainless steel and wire mesh material used to build the bridge is designed to visually disappear, giving visitors a nearly unobstructed view of the Richmond skyline above and the river below.

Unlike many pedestrian bridges, designed to fly high above whatever they’re crossing, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge embraces its closeness to the water. Just 20 feet above the river, it provides a welcome respite for city dwellers, creating an opportunity for people to connect with nature.

It is the first pedestrian structure to span the entire width of the James River. The 1,700-­foot­ span connects downtown Richmond to the revitalizing Manchester neighborhood.

The Potterfield Bridge has emerged as an enormously successful recreational and civic amenity, quickly becoming a destination and focus of the social and cultural life of Richmond, providing a unique experience and river perspective that previously did not exist, and connecting the two sides of the city – helping to establish “one” Richmond.

In addition to builder Howard Shockey & Sons, project team members included Hargreaves Associates (Boston), Moffatt & Nichol (Richmond), AECOM (Richmond), and VHB (Richmond).