Gordie Howe brings a new ‘modern’ symbol to Windsor’s skyline, architect says

CBC News

The bridge span is set to connect in June

With the Gordie Howe International Bridge just weeks away from meeting in the middle, one expert says this is a chance to think about the images that define Windsor. 

Dorian Moore is an architect and urban designer who works with the Centre for Cities at the University of Windsor. He says the city has an opportunity to make the Gordie Howe bridge a defining feature. 

“You can see it from many different vantage points in the city I think it has the opportunity to become a symbol for the city. That postcard image — or at least in conjunction with the Ambassador Bridge — as this dual bridge image of the city, I think it can serve as a symbol for that, or a modern symbol, as opposed to the Ambassador Bridge, which is more of a traditional symbol of that connection between Detroit and Windsor,” Moore said. 

“So I think from that standpoint, it’s important at symbolizing us as an international city.”

Unlike other focal pieces of art and architecture — such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben or the Golden Gate Bridge — the new Gordie Howe won’t be so much a destination as it will be a point of arrival. 

But there are things the city can do to enhance what the bridge adds to the Windsor skyline. 

“What I would say is that there’s an opportunity to … highlight these views of the bridge like the one we have down Wyandotte here are,” Moore said, noting the view of the bridge from Walkerville.

“Are there ways to light things at night so that view is highlighted and becomes that postcard kind of image and and find the viewpoints from other areas in the city and how can we articulate those views and make it important and make it become a destination where you see it and you go, ‘I want to go to that?'”

It’s a chance for the city to connect and think about its focal points and landmarks across neighbourhoods, Moore says. 

“What are the things that make Windsor special and how can we highlight them in each of our areas,” he said. “Because we tend to think about areas like Walkerville or Ford City or Riverside. But we don’t think as much about, well, what are the landmarks in these areas and how can they become focal points and destinations for our communities?

Amar Soud and Ahmad Srour headed up the hill at Malden Park to catch a view of the Gordie Howe recently. Both civil engineers, they said they hope it relieves some of the congestion and cost of their daily commutes to Detroit. 

Soud says he has questions about how the cycling and walking trail will be used, given the bridge connects with a highway. But Srour says the bridge is “huge feat.”

“Windsor is a bit more quiet than it should be. I feel like it should be revitalized have more people coming in, more businesses,” Srour said. 

“It does look great to be honest with you, you know, comparing the size. I do live on the riverside, so I can see it from my window and comparing it to the Ambassador Bridge … seeing the [government] actually investing in Windsor, building this city, you know, I feel like we’re missing out a lot in Windsor and it’s a great place to to grow.”