Project Description

OpRail design meeting | Photo by Richard Lovrich



Operation Railbridge is an initiative to revive the nine railway underpasses that recur throughout downtown Schenectady, NY into dynamic public assets. Schenectady is located about 150 miles north of New York City, and has a long industrial history; housing companies such as General Electric and Schenectady Steel. These historic spaces are in various states of disrepair, and currently disconnect adjoining neighborhoods. This project was conceived to creatively address such conditions through an evolving streetscape, advocating walkability. This vision will connect the city’s industrial history to an innovative future through the integration of responsive art, design and technology in the public realm. 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.

Dwaal’s Role:

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Image by Paula Rand

Pilot Design Installation Concept | 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 – 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.


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

Project Overview PDF

OpRail design meeting | Photo by Richard Lovrich


Taking measurements on site, in the underpass | Photo by Patrick Harris Jr.


Taking measurements on site, in the underpass | Photo by Patrick Harris Jr.


Click here to see more collaborative lighting and acoustic projects by Dwaal and Arcgeometer.