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Architects suggest new uses for bridge

BERKELEY, Calif., Jan. 12 (UPI) -- The architects behind a graduate school project to conceive uses for the eastern half of San Francisco's Bay Bridge say the idea driving the project is valid.

Frederic Schwartz, a New York architect who served as the Joseph Esherick visiting professor in architecture at the University of California Berkeley campus' College of Environmental Design, said the semester-long graduate project was based in the idea that the bridge should be converted to a useful structure rather than demolished after its scheduled replacement in 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

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"There's no reason it can't be transformed into something wondrous, a fusion of nature and the machine," Schwartz said.

The projects developed by the students include a working farm, a hotel and a park sitting atop housing units.

"I really believe that if a choice was being made today, we'd be looking at the alternative of salvaging the bridge a lot more than in the '90s," said Marc L'Italien, Schwartz's studio partner.

However, officials said the bridge is still likely to be demolished.

"Changing the use of that structure does not change the fact that in the long run, it's (seismically) obsolete," said Bart Ney, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. "We would not be allowed to leave something in ruin on the bay. The level of maintenance required even then would be enormous."

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