Posts tagged with "Bridges":

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Lunch at a Landmark: Norman Foster explains the creative process behind his iconic structures

On October 7, the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation hosted its annual “Lunch at a Landmark” at the top of the Hearst Tower. Guests, New York’s elite architectural, design, and preservation cognoscenti, were offered a rare insight into the building—one from Norman Foster himself. To best explain his old-meets-new approach to the Hearst Tower, Foster revisited five of his past projects: the Reichstag in Berlin; the Millennium Bridge over the Thames; the Millau Viaduct in Millau, France; La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France; and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux. The original Art Deco Hearst building by Joseph Urban was always intended to have a tower rising from its base. However, due to complications like the Great Depression, it was nearly 80 years before that tower came to fruition. To build the 46-story-tall skyscraper, Foster scooped out the building’s interior to introduce light and create a kind of “town-square.” This move was initially contested on the grounds of “facadism” but Foster persisted. “When someone says I can’t do something, that is when I get really excited about it,” he said. Now, the dynamic lobby with its dramatic entrance that takes pedestrians over an indoor waterfall to enter is one of the building’s most iconic design moments. Of course, Foster could make an educated guess that this would be the case. He took a similar approach to Berlin’s Reichstag in 1999. In that instance, the hollowed-out core was a historically sensitive move that visually helped to give the building back to the people. Even as he preserved the Russian graffiti and other emblems of the building’s past, the clear dome in the tower physically placed the people above the government as a bright symbol of democracy. Although bridges are markedly different from buildings, Foster also connected past and present with the Millennium Bridge and the Millau Viaduct, quite literally. Taking cues from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern in London, the Millennium Bridge’s thin, steel profile frames picturesque views of the city for the approximately 4 million people per year who walk across it. While France’s Millau Viaduct didn’t have to contend with any historic buildings, it presented a similar challenge in that its location, the Massif Central Region, is a National Heritage Site. Using tall piers to support the slender bridge, Foster and Michel Virlogeux (the lead engineer at Eiffage, the same company responsible for the Eiffel Tower), created a structure that only lightly touches the land and enhances the landscape for everyone driving across it. These three projects illustrate Foster’s concept of a design “marriage,” a relationship that he likens to a family, where there is a new generation that may have a distinct style, but it has very strong ties to the older generation. In two other projects he discussed, La Voile in St. Jean Cap Ferrat, France, and the Château Margaux in Bordeaux, Foster opted for a different approach. For La Voile, Foster ran up against a well-intentioned law in the South of France that protected the coastline. Unfortunately, this meant that a nondescript house on his client’s property was also protected. But, by hollowing out an old stone tower from the center, Foster created a new “skin,” a design that totally swallows the original home—perfectly preserving it without compromising the new design. In fact, the fit was so perfect, that the local police raided the house once to make sure the original one was accessible underneath (it was). Along similar lines, but less dramatically, Foster integrated a new structure for making white wine at the Château Margaux winery with an 1815 building by Louis Combes. Pulling inspiration from trees and farm structures, the resulting building appears to grow both organically from the site and from its 19th Century counterpart. These five projects offer a survey of Foster’s innovative and varying approaches to melding old and new architecture in ways both familiar and unique to each site. It will be exciting to see how these approaches unfold as he turns to more radical projects such as the drone port in Rwanda and beyond.
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Report: Red tape and deferred maintenance balloon U.S. infrastructure costs to $3.7 trillion

A new report attempts to quantify the cost of our national reluctance to fix aging bridges, railroads and power lines. Delays in approving infrastructure projects cost the United States some $3.7 trillion, according to the nonpartisan think tank Common Good—more than twice what it would take to fix the infrastructure in the first place, according to a report titled Two Years, Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals. That staggering price tag includes the costs of prolonged inefficiencies and unnecessary pollution that continues while local, state, and federal agencies forestall fixes to infrastructure that the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates is due for $1.7 trillion in repairs and maintenance through 2020. The New York–based think tank based their numbers on a six-year delay, which they reasoned was accurate according to available data about how long projects typically take to get shovel-ready:
Although large projects often take a decade or longer to permit, we assume that the avoidable delay on major projects is six years. There is ample anecdotal evidence of actual years of delay in the US for different types of infrastructure projects, but little cumulative data. The Federal Highway Administration estimated that the average time for approval of major highway projects was over six years. Five to ten years is a common timeframe for interstate transmission lines, and for wind farms and solar fields on federal lands on either coast.
Infrastructure maintenance and repair is, of course, a thoroughly unsexy topic. But, as the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial about Common Good's report, it's important—and perhaps politically viable even in a presidential election cycle:
Common Good suggests building a process that shuttles projects through in a prompt two years. Environmental reviews should be handled by one designated official and kept to 300 pages; litigation should be restricted to the first 90 days after the permit is issued; the White House should be granted authority to appoint an agency as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for interstate projects. Congress could address the permitting morass this fall as part of the transportation bill, and the presidential candidates could include the issue and a horror story or two in their agendas for faster economic growth. It’s hard to imagine a more sensible and politically achievable idea—and one better suited to restoring public confidence that government can carry out its basic duties.
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New York state unveils new pedestrian and cyclist bridge now under construction in Upper Manhattan

New York State Department of Transportation (NYDOT) Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll has revealed a $24.4 million bicycle and pedestrian bridge at 151st Street in Manhattan. Crossing the Henry Hudson Parkway and the adjacent Amtrak line, the new bridge will connect West Harlem with the Hudson River Greenway. For cyclists, the bridge will be a welcome addition to the area as it is set to provide stair-free access between the greenway and the intersection of 151st Street and Riverside Drive. The development is the second piece of positive news for bikers in the area. According to Streetsblog, earlier this year, New York City's DOT (NYC DOT) installed a "two-way bike lane on 158th Street as part of a larger package of bikeway improvements linking the Hudson River Greenway to the High Bridge." The historic High Bridge reopened to cyclists and pedestrians this past June. Spanning 270 feet, the new bridge will feature ADA-compliant ramps on both sides and a dramatic archway overhead. This is the second and final installment from the NYDOT within the 71st Assembly District to improve access to the Hudson River waterfront, the first of which came in 2006 with the $2 million ramp and stairway at 158th street. Driscoll in the announcement said the project will cost $24.4million of which some will also go toward new landscaping and lighting within the area.
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Watch the first arch of Santiago Calatrava’s Margaret McDermott Bridge get topped off in Dallas

An important milestone for what is set to be Dallas' newest landmark was just reached as the first arch of Santiago Calatrava's Margaret McDermott Bridges project was completed in late August. As part of Dallas-Fort Worth region's Horseshoe Project, the Margaret McDermott Bridges, according to a press release, "are a major component of the city’s urban revitalization efforts." The project will span 1,200 feet across the Trinity River creating what is set to be a "central gathering place." Currently, the Eastbound Bridge Arch rises 275 feet above Interstate 30 and the project is due to be completed during the summer of 2017. The last arch piece, which was lifted roughly 28 stories on August 22, is approximately 1,024 feet long and weighs about 200 tons. The news is a boost for locals who eagerly anticipate its completion as it will provide pedestrian, cycle and car access to both sides. Costing a total of $113 million, the bridges barely take a chunk out of the $798 million Horseshoe project which looks to solve the city's infrastructure needs and traffic flow to the heart of Dallas’ downtown. For the entire duration of construction of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, Interstate 30 main lines have remained open.
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Crowdsourced Infrastructure: Dutch Architects ZUS Complete A Self-Initiated Footbridge

Have you ever wanted to go to the park but had a highway or rail yard in your way? Ever feel like the best parts of your city are disconnected? Do what Rotterdam- and New York–based designers Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS) did. They wanted to connect parts of Rotterdam, so they took matters into their own hands and put together a crowdfunding initiative to connect a series of three districts through public infrastructure. Luchtsingel, a 1300-foot-long bridge received support from some 5,000 people and finally opened last week. The saga started in 2011 when the city cancelled the development of an office building in Rotterdam Central District. ZUS took over what is known as the Schieblock, and turned it into a city laboratory. The space acts as an incubator for young entrepreneurs and includes a ground-floor store, bar, culinary workshop, information center, and the Dakakker, Europe’s first urban farming roof. When the Delftsehof nightlife area and two parks opened, Pompenburg Park, and the Hofplein Station Roof Park, the districts needed to be connected. As part of the 2012 Architecture Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR), co-curated by ZUS, the area was named “Test Site Rotterdam,” and included 18 interventions connected by the Luchtsingel. The crowd-funding project “I Make Rotterdam” sold over 8,000 boards inscribed with the names of those who donated, for just €25 each. Not all 18 proposals were but the Luchtsingel has now happened. The project is a unifying factor in the resurgence of Rotterdam as a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly urban area, and uses “the city's evolutionary character and existing forms as a starting point. Therefore, we have developed new instruments for design, financing, and planning" to make "a new three-dimensional cityscape," according to ZUS founders Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman.  
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New robot technology by Dutch designer can 3D-print a steel bridge in mid-air over a canal

New to the list of job functions up for replacement by technology: bridge construction. Dutch designer Joris Laarman has founded MX3D, a research and development company currently tinkering with a never-before-seen 3D printer that can weld steel objects in mid-air. In 2017, Laarman will deposit the robot on the banks of a canal in Amsterdam and walk away. When he returns two months later, a 24-foot steel bridge will arc over the canal, built utterly without human intervention yet capable of accommodating normal foot traffic for decades. This potentially revolutionizing technology by MX3D and Autodesk can “draw” and fabricate city infrastructure on location, which has radical implications for the construction industry. Far from being makeshift, the finished bridge will feature an intricate design that looks more handcrafted than the detailing on a typical bridge. 3D printing allows for granular control of detail that industrial manufacturing does not, accommodating designs that are more ornate and bespoke than the detailing on most bridges. While 3D printers normally transact in resin or plastic, Laarman’s bridge will be fabricated from a steel composite developed by the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. It will be as strong as regular steel but can be dolloped drop by drop by a 3D printer. The unique printer itself has no printer bed. Using additive printing technology, it “works like a train,” according to Fast Company. “Except instead of running along existing tracks it prints out its own as it goes along.” The six-axis robot can move horizontally, vertically and even diagonally, and can hence traverse gaps like a canal or the empty space between walls. “We thought to ourselves: what is the most iconic thing we could print in public that would show off what our technology is capable of?” Laarman told Fast Company. “This being the Netherlands we decided a bridge over an old canal was a pretty good choice. Not only is it good for publicity, but if MX3D can construct a bridge out of thin air, it can construct anything.” Laarman enlisted design and engineering software company Autodesk to help rectify common 3D printing glitches – namely, designing a robot with a real-time feedback loop capable of correcting itself when errors occur. Typically, when a drop of resin is misplaced, the robot has no way of “knowing,” so that all subsequent drops are misplaced and the design is maimed. Given that the robot will build in public, foreseeable errors extend beyond internal mechanical failures. The machine must be primed to withstand temperature fluctuations that cause metal to expand and even “kids hurling beer bottles at the robot.” “Robots tend to assume that the universe is made of absolutes, even though that’s not true,” said Maurice Conti, head of Autodesk’s Applied Research Lab. “So we need to program them to have real-time feedback loops, and adapt in real time without even being told to.” If successful, MX3D’s technology could open up avenues for unprecedented design possibilities and cost efficiency in the fields of construction, architecture, design, and more.
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Every year, a community in Peru rebuilds this 230-foot suspension bridge out of local grasses

Every year, one of the world’s most tensile rope suspension bridges—straddling a 230-foot-wide canyon in Peru—is handwoven from dried grass. In deference to elemental wear-and-tear, the bridge is painstakingly reconstructed every year by Quechua-speaking communities on either side of the chasm in a ceremonial ritual lasting three days, always ending in song and dance. https://youtu.be/dql-D6JQ1Bc The builders harvest q’oya grass to be woven into large cables. They begin with a small cord which is twisted together from local grass, and then weave it with 30 more small cords to form a larger rope. For the next few hours, the community engages in cordial games of tug-of-war to stretch the large ropes out, which are subsequently woven and twisted. Finally, three of these large ropes are braided together to form the cables that will support the bridge, with the bridge’s architect, Victoriano Arizapana, weaving on one side and a worker on the other until their ends merge. More tugging of the finished rope ensues to increase the structure’s tensile strength, after which the community carries the cables down to where the bridge will be installed. “The work my father gave me to do, I started doing when I was 12 years old. I love that bridge Q’eswachaka very much. In other words, I love it like a son,” Victoriano said in the documentary The Bridge at Q’eshwachaka by the National Museum of the American Indian. The old bridge is used to run the first cable across the gap. After disposing of the old bridge with a cursory toss into the river below, the community anchors the four supporting cables to stone abutments on either side of the canyon before weaving the handrails. This unflinching routine has been repeated every year in the same location since the time of the Inca, and the modus operandi, based on rudiments cascaded from generation to generation by Victoriano’s ancestors, has not changed. The bridge is also very strong—able to be safely traversed by dozens of people simultaneously. Song- and dance-filled celebrations abound upon the bridge’s completion as the communities celebrate their collective, handmade linkage.
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A long-abandoned New York City aqueduct reopens as bike and pedestrian path

After 45 years, New York City’s oldest standing bridge has been returned to its former glory. On Tuesday, city officials and local advocates cut the ribbon on the newly-revitalized, High Bridge, which stretches 1,450 feet across the Harlem River, from Upper Manhattan to the Bronx. The Romanesque structure dates back to 1848 when it was part of the Old Croton Aqueduct that delivered fresh drinking water into a growing city that was struggling to produce its own. After decades of decay, followed by years of rehabilitation, High Bridge is open once again, offering an inter-borough connection for pedestrians and cyclists. https://vimeo.com/18642808 According to PBS, five of High Bridge’s masonry arches were removed in the 1920s and replaced with one steel arch to better accommodate passing ships. Later, in the late 1950s, when the Croton Aqueduct was decommissioned, High Bridge became a strictly pedestrian path. And it stayed that way until the 1970s, when it was closed to the public and left to deteriorate for decades. After years of prodding from community groups, and a full-page New York Daily News editorial, Mayor Michael Bloomberg committed $50 million toward the restoration of the bridge. In 2006, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation announced that the project would, in fact, happen, but construction did not start until 2013. On the day of the official groundbreaking, AN reported that, along with necessary structural work, the High Bridge project included "pedestrian safety measures like accessibility ramps, viewing platforms, and new lighting. An eight-foot-tall cable mesh fence to prevent jumpers and throwing trash will also line each side.” The project was supposed to be completed in 2014, but things obviously did not pan out that way. But that's all water under the bridge, if you will, because the High Bridge is back and open for business. “After years of dedicated effort, the High Bridge now offers a very real connection between neighbors, boroughs, and crucial resources," New York City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said in a statement. "Starting today, the people of the Bronx and Manhattan—and indeed all New Yorkers—have will once again be able to walk, bike, or simply sit and enjoy this beautiful bridge." The total cost of the project was just shy of $62 million. https://vimeo.com/130252478
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Two outdated Atlanta bridges get a major design redo thanks to these winning design teams

Winners of the Atlanta Bridgescape Competition were announced last week at the AIA Conference that was held in the city. The competition, launched earlier this year, asked multidisciplinary teams to reimagine two of Atlanta’s outdated bridges with a budget of about $3 million. Hometown designers Max Neiswander and Luke Kvasnicka won with (sin)uosity, their plan to remake Midtown’s 10th Street Bridge with plantings, fresh bike lanes, and a curving, ribbed shell. Roger DeWeese, head of the Atlanta-based Peachtree Architects, also earned top honors with Organic Canopy, a vision to top Courtland/McGill Bridge with a geodesic dome–like structure. This plan actually won twice as it was selected by the competition's blind jury and the general public through the People's Choice Award. The other People's Choice Award went to Green City Spectator by the Poland-based KAMJZ Architects along with ARUP. Perhaps the most adventurous design, this scheme tops the bridge with what appears to be farming areas, and also has a zigzagging structure similar to to HNTB's vision for Los Angeles’ 6th Street Viaduct. “Competitions are about vision and big ideas,” said competition manager Tony Rizzuto, Chair in the Department of Architecture at Kennesaw State University, in a statement. "They have the potential to take us out of our comfort zone to see possibilities we never imaged. They provide a catalyst for discourse on public space and promote the pursuit of better design.” The ideas-centered competition was sponsored by Central Atlanta Progress, Midtown Alliance, and the Atlanta chapter of the AIA.
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Here’s the final stage design of Thomas Heatherwick’s controversial London Garden Bridge

The final touches have been put on London’s now-infamous Garden Bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with Arup and landscape designer Dan Pearson. The most recent renderings, released early this week, show exactly what the spaces on the bridge will look like by offering an up-close look at the garden-like landscaping. The Garden Bridge Trust (GBT) describes it as an “oasis of escapism.” Like New York’s High Line, the bridge is a collaboration between the architects and landscape designers, but Pearson said that “Thomas [Heatherwick] always described the garden as being the reason the bridge is there and we have a very generous space with which to make a garden.” This includes 27,000 square feet of planted green space, with ferns, grasses, 270 trees, 2,000 shrubs, hedging plants and climbers, more than 22,000 perennials, and 64,000 bulbs, according to GBT estimates. The new details of the plan include a conceptual framework laid out by Pearson and his team that includes five separate zones that make reference to the green spaces of London. They are: a marsh, a “cliff top landscape,” two woodlands, and a traditional, planted garden area. The design is the last step in unveiling the bridge to the public, which includes several skeptical parties. The approval process has been called into question, including the quick approval of former MP at the Department for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles. Others have questioned the design itself as unnecessary given the extreme need for bridges across the river in other, lower-income East London neighborhoods. Heatherwick has also been tapped to design a similar park that will hover above the Hudson River in New York. It remains to be seen if the Manhattan version will meet the same opposition as the London bridge. Part of the difference is that the Garden Bridge is being sold as a piece of public infrastructure that will connect two important parts of town, but is being heavily regulated including no bicycles, no protests, and no night walking, as Olly Wainwright has mentioned in the Guardian. Sam Jacob pointed out that the bridge raises many questions about public space in a city rapidly consumed as a territory of global capital and speculation. He probably would have preferred the city just build his version, which included the lyrics to Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 98” etched into the stone balustrades. It's hard to fault Heatherwick for the political turmoil, however. He has delivered a beautiful piece of parkland, and we would have to believe that he is doing his best to mitigate the undercurrents of neoliberalism and inequality that are highlighted by the project. In a recent interview with AN, Heatherwick said, "I’m very influenced by the Jane Jacobs book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It almost made me fall in love with public-ness. With the bit we share together, and the subtle chemistry existing in the social interactions in public space." Sometimes the architect is hard to blame. [via gizmag]
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Pictorial> Crews taking down Santa Monica’s California Incline for replacement project

On April 20, construction workers began demolishing Santa Monica's California Incline, a longtime connector between the Pacific Coast Highway and the city's overlooking bluffs. The 1,400-foot-long roadway, built in 1930, is getting a $20-million renovation (including a seismic retrofit and a new pedestrian bridge) by Caltrans and the city of Santa Monica that is expected to take year to complete. Below take a last look at the wonderfully weathered incline as we know it. (Click on thumbnail to start slideshow.)  
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Architects in Barcelona are remaking this tired, old bridge into a glow-in-the-dark, smog-eating sustainability machine

Spanish architecture studio BCQ recently announced plans to upgrade the arterial Sarajevo Bridge in Barcelona to be self-cleaning, smog-eating, and boast hanging gardens to boot. The Barcelona City Council commissioned the firm to improve the pedestrian experience through better lighting and air quality. First, a layer of photocatalytic concrete will replace the existing surface. This self-cleaning material neutralizes air pollutants by absorbing nitrogen oxides and converting them into harmless substances, and can also be applied to white or gray cement. All pollution removed will be simply washed away by the rain, guaranteeing a self-sustaining method that is environmentally non-invasive. This same technology will be modeled in the Italian pavilion at the upcoming Milan Expo 2015. Reminiscent of the glowing roads currently being trialled in the Netherlands, the bridge will harness glow-in-the-dark phosphorescence using photoluminescent glow stones to provide ambient light. Non-toxic and non-radioactive, the stones absorb solar energy during the day, which they slowly metabolize by night. BCQ will also mount photovoltaic solar panels to power low-energy LED lighting fixtures. Meanwhile, the area will be vegetated by green walls and pergolas covered in climbing plants. “It enables better interaction between pedestrians and vehicles, provides the space with vegetated arcades and changes the image of the bridge to distinguish it as one of the gates of Barcelona,” the architects said. As the gateway linking traffic from the north to the Catalonian capital, and spanning the Avinguda Meridiana, a major avenue, the dual carriageway will become a hoped-for meeting point between the two Trinitat neighborhoods.