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Portland State University graduate architecture students gain experience reimagining the Burnside Bridge.

PMG PHOTO: STEPHANIE BASALYGA - Molly Esteve, a second-year graduate architecture student, explains her vision for how an upgraded Burnside Bridge might function after a Cascadian level seismic event.

Within the next couple of years, Multnomah County will settle on a plan that will result in establishing the Burnside Bridge as a main regional lifeline in the case of a large-scale disaster like a Cascadian level seismic event.

When planners, engineers and architects begin to look at possible designs for a new or renovated bridge able to withstand a major earthquake, they'll have a ready-made pool of ideas to turn to, courtesy of a group of students studying architecture at Portland State University.

The students, all in the second and third years of their graduate studies, spent the past few months coming up with ways a new or renovated bridge might function as an integral part of the city both before and after a severe earthquake. The assignment was part of a 500-level studio class taught by Jeff Schnabel, an associate professor at PSU's School of Architecture.

In order to come up with different assignments each time he teaches the studio, Schnabel looks for real world situations that can be posed to students, who are then expected to come up with design solutions as their final projects.

"I definitely like to get a community group, a nonprofit, an agency involved so that as part of the (students') graduate experience it feels more real to them," Schnabel said. "We're taking on projects that are helping that agency or helping that nonprofit."

Click here to read the rest of the story in the Business Tribune.

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