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Final arch to be placed on New York Avenue Bridge

Friday - 8/23/2013, 5:28am  ET

Crews will erect the second portion of a partial arch along the New York Avenue Bridge this weekend. The tree-like arches will provide a new gateway to the redeveloping NoMa neighborhood in the District. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON - The commute from Maryland into Washington on New York Avenue will soon have a new look.

The rehabilitation of the bridge that carries large volumes of traffic over the rail yard north of Union Station has been going on for years. The repairs to the bridge's deck, piers and abutments are nearing completion and so too is a visual curiosity at mid-span.

A team with the Kent Bloomer Studio in New Haven, Conn., is erecting a grand sculpture above the New York Avenue Bridge near Florida Avenue.

This weekend, the studio's engineers, craftsmen and designers will finish erecting the last section of the archway above the bridge.

In a city immersed in architectural accents from generations past, the partial arches on the New York Avenue Bridge will serve as a gateway into Washington's NoMa district.

The tree-like sculptures are more than five stories tall, towering 52 feet above the road. The arches will not line up opposite of one another, rather one arch will come before the other.

Kent Bloomer is chief designer at the Bloomer Studio.

"In a sense we are ornamenting a gateway - two partial arches," Bloomer says. "The kind of ornament that we have always used is ornament that evokes nature."

The New York Avenue Bridge straddles two very different urban enclaves—an industrial warehouse district to the east and NoMa's up-and-coming commercial center to the west. Bloomer sees this work as a lens through which inbound motorists and pedestrians can view a revitalized neighborhood.

"We wanted it to look like a utilitarian object that was then graced with ornament," he says.

Bloomer worked in physics and architecture before exhibiting his sculptures, which can be found locally and throughout the country. He conceptualized the golden, leafy trellis that crawls up the far end of the main concourse at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

He establishes a connection between the artwork and the natural environment, which exists through the ornamentation. Bloomer's mission is simple: He wants to put the "ornament" back into the world of architecture.

"There's something about nature that finds its way into the artifice of architecture and then becomes a property of it," Bloomer says.

New York Avenue will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Saturday to give crews room to maneuver the sculpture into place on the north side of the bridge.

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