Last September, a brand new eastern span of the Bay Bridge stretching between Oakland and San Francisco opened to traffic, a multi-billion dollar, earthquake-safe project that arose right next to the old Bay Bridge, a historic piece of infrastructure erected in the 1930s that partially collapsed during a 1989 earthquake. Bay Area resident David Grieshaber, for one, was sad to hear that the structure would be dismantled and sold for scrap. “It’s been a part of our Bay Area for the past 78 years, and now it’s going to be gone forever,” he says.
A year and a half ago, he concocted a plan to save a piece of the old bridge. He would make it into a house. Thus was born the idea for the Bay Bridge House, a multi-use space created from a piece of the bridge scrap. After holding a student design contest, Grieshaber and his team have settled on a final plan for the structure.
Though he originally envisioned making a piece of the bridge as a simple home, Grieshaber says “It’s expanded beyond my original idea…to becoming much more than what I had envisioned.” Now, he wants to create an eco-friendly, multipurpose building that would be maintained by the Bay Bridge House nonprofit organization, and possibly house museum exhibits about the bridge, as well as have an Airbnb space that guests can stay in.
In the design, he tried to keep as much of the bridge’s original look as possible. It will be expansive and open, with the same road markers on the floor that you’d see on the pavement of the road. The idea was to recreate the feel of driving along the upper deck of the bridge, just inside glass walls. The bridge was never particularly picturesque—especially not compared to its orange neighbor across the bay—but repurposed as a building, its aesthetic is elegant and modern.
It may be a long time before these designs see the light of day, though. Predictably, “it is a bureaucratic nightmare,” according to Grieshaber, and he is still working with authorities from regional transportation agencies, the city and the state to figure out how to he can legally get ahold of the bridge materials. He’s in talks to acquire a 10,000-square-foot plot of land in the area, but he won’t yet say where—just that it will have a view of where the Bay Bridge currently stands.