This rendering of The Gateway Bridge conceptual design reflects changes made to the design in the last 30 days. They include the addition of separate bike and pedestrian lanes, additional seating and more shading. Rendering provided by Michael Van Valkenburg Associates

Some people believe finishing second in a competition makes you the first loser.

Andy Kinslow, founder of KKT Architects in Tulsa, doesn’t see it that way.

Kinslow, whose firm designed The Crossing Bridge, which lost by a hair to The Gateway Bridge in the city’s Arkansas River pedestrian bridge design challenge, said Monday that although he’s disappointed in the outcome, that doesn’t mean The Crossing Bridge is going away.

“We are very excited about all the public comments (and) public support that we have received about the bridge in general,” Kinslow said. “Don’t be surprised if the bridge pops us again someplace else, because there has been interest.”

Kinslow also said he believes the competition was a fair one.

“They (the selection committee) had lots of questions,” Kinslow said. “They asked lots of detailed questions, so I think they were being very thorough in figuring out what they wanted. I think the whole thing was a fair comparison.”

Andy Kinslow

Mayor G.T. Bynum announced the winning design Monday morning at a press conference at River West Festival Park. The new bridge will replace the pedestrian bridge at approximately 29th Street and Riverside Drive, which has been found to be structurally unsound.

The winning bridge design was selected Friday by the 13-member Arkansas River Pedestrian Bridge Selection Committee. The bridge is expected to take 18 months to two years to build and will be constructed in conjunction with the Zink Dam. That project is expected to begin next year.

“We really had two world-class designs to choose from but ultimately made the decision that we will move forward with The Gateway Bridge designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates,” Bynum said.

Watch Mayor G.T. Bynum announce winner of pedestrian bridge challenge.

Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates is the same firm that designed A Gathering Place for Tulsa. The park will connect to the new pedestrian bridge.

Speaking to reporters after the press conference, Bynum acknowledged that the committee’s vote was a close one, but added that The Gateway Bridge consistently scored highest throughout the selection process.

“So it had been the leader every step of the way, but we wanted to do our due diligence as well,” Bynum said.

Several factors played a role in the committee’s decision to select The Gateway Bridge over The Crossing Bridge, Bynum said.

“One, we wanted an iconic bridge, and knowing that this would be the first bridge of its kind built in the United States makes it iconic,” Bynum said. “We also wanted something that blends in well with the Gathering Place and that is timeless. We don’t want to build something and have it next to this amazing park and maybe 30 years from now it looks out of place next to that park.

“Well, there is nobody better in the world to tell us what would blend well with the park then the architect that has designed the park. I think all of those things were strengths that this bridge brings to the table.”

So what will make The Gateway Bridge the first bridge of its kind in the United States?

Jeff Stava with the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which is building A Gathering Place for Tulsa park, said it’s all about the materials.

“We have seen lots of arched bridges, but this is the first time it is actually a metal fabricated arch, so it is the very first time that will have ever been built in the United States,” he said.

Stava, who sat on the Bridge Selection Committee, noted other improvements that have been made to The Gateway Bridge design since the selection committee narrowed the field of design finalists to two.

Those include providing more shading, primarily in the center of the bridge, and separating the bike and pedestrian areas.

“So when you look at the design of the bridge and the deck experience, it will be very similar and draw upon a lot of the significant architectural aspects of the park across the bridge itself,” Stava said.

Bynum said The Gateway Bridge design unveiled Monday could cost up to $35 million, but no more, and that the city would only spend the $24.5 million it initially allocated for the project.

“The original design that MVVA submitted (last month) is what you would get with 25 (million dollars), but again, we are moving ahead with strong confidence that there will be donor support in the community for this bridge.”

The city had been working with MVVA for more than a year to come up with a pedestrian bridge design. In March, Bynum decided to open the process to the public.

The public input process began with an open design submission period in which the city received 234 design proposals. The selection committee then narrowed the field to four designs and put the design concepts out for public comment.

Nearly 3,000 people submitted a total of more than 14,000 comments on the four finalists.

The Crossing Bridge, above, was one of two finalists in the city’s Arkansas River pedestrian bridge challenge. Rendering provided by KKT Architects

About a month ago, Bynum announced that MVVA and KKT had been named finalists and would be given 30 days to modify their designs to reflect the concerns expressed by the public. The city also asked the designers to present plans showing what they could build for $24.5 million and $35 million.

As it turned out, KKT did not submit a new design, Kinslow said, because the firm believed its existing design addressed the public’s concerns. Instead, KKT used its 30 days to make sure the bridge could be built within the $24.5 million budget with the understanding that more amenities could be added if more funding was available.

“We think that it would have been a great, iconic bridge for Tulsa,” Kinslow said of the The Crossing. “But I do think that because of the (extra design time) and public comments and all that, I think the MVVA bridge is better now than it was going to be. It’s actually something interesting, and not just a bridge.

“The thing that we kept saying (about ours) is that it wasn’t just a bridge, it was an experience. That’s the kind of thing we were pushing with ours.”

The city initially planned to rehabilitate the existing pedestrian bridge and add a second deck in time for the opening of A Gathering Place in the late spring or summer of 2018. But that idea was scrapped in late 2014 after an inspection uncovered deficiencies in the bridge that make the planned reconstruction impractical and cost-prohibitive.