Railroad Underpasses
Schenectady, NY | 2015 – Ongoing

Operation Railbridge is an initiative to revive the nine railway underpasses that recur throughout downtown Schenectady into dynamic public assets. These historic spaces are in various states of disrepair, and currently disconnect adjoining neighborhoods. This project was conceived to creatively address such conditions, connecting the city’s industrial history to an innovative future through the integration of responsive art, design and technology. As a collective, we are agents in reclaiming underutilized public space that will engage artisans, designers and community stakeholders to re-frame historical connections through creative economy.

OpRail Introduction Video by Patrick Harris Jr. (below)

Pilot Design Installation Concept (below)

Pilot Design Installation Concept | b6 Union Street Underpass | Image by Paula Rand

b6 Union Street Railpass | Image by Paula Rand

This concept will make the acoustic energy of trains visible. As a train approaches, passes, and recedes, the propagation of acoustic vibrations through the steel structure of the underpass will be translated into a visible dance of light. In addition to displaying energy of the present, “ghost trains” will pass by and visitors will experience the sound and visual energy of Schenectady’s past. Information about each train’s schedule, origin, destination, and cargo will also be made visible and/or audible to become experiential narratives in the space. We’re beginning with the Union Street underpass as a pilot location for site-specific data collection, design development and community engagement. This effort has initial support by The Schenectady Foundation our design partners and Operation Railbridge's fiscal agent, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC).

Pilot Design Team:
Project Director / Founder - Kristin Diotte, Post-Design
Pilot Concept + Acoustics - Zackery Belanger, Arcgeometer
Lighting Design + Research - Kate Sweater Hickcox, DWAAL Design
Architectural Visualization - Paula Rand, Post-Design
Creative Direction, Photography - Richard Lovrich, Proctors
Science + Technology Studies - Dr. Brandon Costelloe-Kuehn, RPI
Community Engagement - Maria Diotte, Creative Connections
Media Production, Video - Patrick Harris Jr., Probity + Co.

Click here to learn more about the Operation Railbridge team.
Click here to visit our Facebook page, OpRail Schenectady.

Pilot Site Studies + Conversations | b6 Union Street Railpass (above)

New York Central track elevation under construction, State Street c.1905. Source: SCHS (above)

Design Partners + Collaborators of Operation Railbridge:

DWAAL Design
Re4orm Architecture
2440 Design Studio
Studio Lovrich Photography
Creative Connections (Enlightened Bliss)
Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation
The Schenectady Foundation
Schenectady County Historical Society

Operation Railbridge News + Press:

Showcasing Schenectady’s Energy
By Sara Foss, The Daily Gazette
Operation Railbridge builds paths to the future
By Haley Viccaro, The ALT
Saving Historic Bridges: Where Craft Meets Creativity
By Jenna Sauber, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Thinking It Through: Ugly Bridges Have Potential
By Sara Foss, The Daily Gazette
Exploring underutilized tunnels, alleys, subways and other cool spaces
By Don Rittner, Times Union

OpRail Design Team Meeting | Studio Lovrich Photography (above)

Liberty Street Infill Documentation | Studio Lovrich Photography (above)


Underutilized railroad underpasses become sensual attractors that enhance the experience + mobility through the city, engaging designers, artisans + the public.

Project Overview PDF