I have been trying to use the creative side of my brain lately and I am finding it is woefully underdeveloped. To try and jumpstart my inner Calatrava I spoke with an architect friend of mine about design ideas. I always thought it was important to design a bridge that reflects some of the context the bridge will be embracing. For example, if a city was famous for tall building maybe a tall bridge would be the way to go. (Or a short bridge to play off the height of the surrounding site.)
But then my friend springs the idea that a design can just be cool and it can be left to others to define what the bridge means. The idea is, you can design a bridge that can be placed almost anywhere. You could have a bunch of innovative designs sitting on the shelf just wanting for a design competition.
So now i am confused (not the first time.) does a bridge have to mean anything to a site of just look cool?
Some random bridge pictures for a Saturday morning.
So I finally picked a direction after much head scratching for the Calgary bridge. I had an idea that used a stressed ribbon bridge. BUT…when I started laying out some ideas in Sketchup I didn’t like the idea of having a sag curve over the water. It seems to require fairly tall anchorages which I think are a little bit of overkill for this site. Which means going back to an idea I had using a cable stay kind of structure. I think the cable stay will allow a positive profile grade which looks cool and helps to drain the water to the end supports. So back to the drawing board.
The biggest problem (among many) in entering a contest by yourself is the amount of work involved. I need interns, preferably professional engineers, architects, graphic designers who all work for free. Then I could sketch ideas and the interns could work fleshing them out. “Hey you, another coffee latte over here, stat”.
An example of a stressed ribbon by Brego on wiki. (It kinda looks limp to me.)
I lived in Calgary for 25 years and the thing I remember the most is playing road hockey night after night with my brothers. We used tennis balls instead of a puck and we had to rotate them when they eventually froze. (Playing goalie and getting hit with a frozen sphere can hurt…you know where.)
I have been trying to come up with a design for their new St. Patrick Island link but I am having bridge designer’s block. Reading the RFP yet again it seems the money is on one bridge with some kind of access ramp from the bridge to the island. If I have my math correct (remember I use feet now and not meters..) the bridge will float over the Island about 3-4 meters, to stay above high water levels. The recommended orientation is shown in red below. (not my design just a marker)
My design block is trying to figure a decent ramp down from the bridge. I thought maybe a nice 10-20m diameter meeting plaza, over the Island, would provide a nice spot for people to sit, eat lunch and meet up. (wow that’s original) The plaza would have a ramp the would connect down to the island. I thought about a spiral ramp underneath or using a great staircase with an adjacent ramp. (maybe the staircase could then be used as amphitheater seating for a performance circle at the end of the ramp.)
Then I thought isn’t that overkill for this spot? I also hate the bridge flying over the Island. Without a good design, the area underneath will be a dead zone. The Island may not have much of a beach but a bridge overhead can’t be that appealing. Then I thought the best solution would be two smaller more intimate bridges with a path between them and some great park landscaping all around. (If the landscaping was flooded the cost to fix it would be small.)
The purple bridges in the picture represent the smaller bridges. (The white bridge is an existing suspension bridge.)
So am I off my rocker to think that the massive bridge is a little much for this site? Can the bridge floating over the Island be designed to avoid the dead zone underneath. ( I even thought of putting shops under the bridge in a circle, but I worried they would be flooded out.) Help!
If you saw the link in the previous post to the latest FAQ from the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, you might have read some odd things.
For me, two answers stood out. 1) The RFP and the FAQ both give the impression that a team is the preferred option. Since I am a team of one, this might be a spot of trouble for me (yes its all about me)…
Answer #2) The CMLC is the sole judge in step one and they will filter which designs move forward to the public. This seems fairly odd for a “open” design competition, because the CMLC’s criteria for moving options forward is unclear. The first batch of entrants could hold a great design but only the ones the CMLC allows through will be moved into the public sphere.
I like the idea of throwing all the entries into the open. Let the public decide what the best bridge design is for the residents of Calgary.
If you don’t make it through the first round, send me your design I would love to post it.
I also wonder if posting your design and entering the contest would help you move to the second round? What I mean by that is, would it be possible to build enthusiasm for your design if you advertised it before submitting it? Imagine if Calatrava posted a solution a day before the final turn-in. I wonder if that would help or hurt a designers chances? Has anyone done this and won?
I was looking through the competition “rules” for the proposed Calgary pedestrian bridge and a couple of things stood out. The budget is $25 million which includes all design fees, permits, construction, etc to get the bridge in place. So when I get my 10% design fee (Ha!) the bridge will have to be built for $22.5 million. (They did hint they could go higher with the budget if the bridge concept was worth it.)
In my initial planning I thought two bridges would be the best way to go. With that in mind I looked at the distances and I calculated one bridge with a 110 m span and one with 68 meters. (Not the same as I showed in an earlier post.) I thought some curved structures with one or two piers in the river would make the bridge fun to walk across. (Straight is boring)
BUT the RFP suggests that piers in the river would be frowned upon. That may still allow two bridges but it forces you to look at bridge types that can handle a 110 meter single span. Most likely (I think) concepts will show a single tower (or sculpture) on the island, used as a cable stay bridge. (Like the goofy Golden Trumpet I made this afternoon for fun. It has yellow a brick road!)
The island is the low spot at an elevation of 1039.25 m. The minimum elevation over the highest ice level, with 1.5 meters of freeboard, is about 1043.5 meters. The two banks are at about 1043 meters in elevation.
Hey HP if your not in the competition, do you think the lack of piers in the river limit the designs?
Working on finding a formula to render a bridge fast with a reasonable outcome. This bridge took 15 minutes in sketchup and then about 1/2 hour in the rendering washing machine. It is about 150 meters long with a slight curve. Okay its lousy but it is teaching me about viewpoints and how to showcase a bridge.
The Calgary bridges will most likely be around 150 meters and 75 meters long. I will keep trying…
I have a working concept for my bridge design but now I face the problem of trying to get it developed/rendered in an award winning digital style. (Ha!) The first thing you notice when you try to do this by yourself is how much work it actually takes to get to an end product. As an engineer I have no formal training in developing presentation materials other than 2D CAD drawings.
From what I understand about architectural firms, they often have interns available, with computer skills, who can develop 3D sketches while the concept is being refined. Take a look at this post at the Happy Pontist. It looks like Calatrava made some preliminary sketches for his bridge and then you see the fully rendered photorealistic final images. I doubt Calatrava develop the 3D renderings…The bridge images in that post are amazing. Is this the level of detail expected in the Calgary Competition? How many engineers can put something like that together?
I could use some help/suggestions on how to develop presentation materials. Maybe some pointers or some links to projects with graphics that even I could make, HELP!
I saw the first candidate for the new bridge on a forum at skyscraperpage.com It does have mountains, cowboys and a reference to the oil refineries in Alberta! (Ralph Klein was the mayor when i was living there)
The City of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada is having an open bridge competition for a new pedestrian bridge. The site is gorgeous and is a perfect location to showcase a bridge. The winner will certainly take a step closer to Calatrava status.
I want to enter the competition but my chances as a lone designer are not good. The Happy Pontist answered some of my questions about how to enter such a competition.
So ABC posts may become a bit sporadic while I tilt at windmills. I realize of course that I cannot possible develop a concept as deeply as a design team of architects and engineers. The allure of this project is the development of a new bridge concept, the design of something new.
So my steps to submission:
1) I have to decide whether to go extreme or practical. Since I am not going to win I think a “practical” design is out. I would rather be booted out of the competition for being too expensive instead of commonplace.
2) Since I am the Lone Designer, the concept is going to be vague. I can’t possibly develop digital quality renderings if I am worried about where the drains are going…
3) Rethink if I have the time for this…..still it would be fun to have my design in the mix.
One of the things about being an engineer is the fact you learn from experience. (Okay, everybody learns from experience.) What I mean is, once you start your career you start to see how things are done in real life situations. Designing something for a million dollars is vastly different than the plain straightforward examples you get in school.
Having a great engineer as a mentor is the ideal but most of us will learn from a variety of engineers with different levels of experience. To this end, I think a great deal about the “practical” advice I give my students in class.
For example, take the pier shown below. If the pier cap is longer than 60′ (typically the longest length of steel reinforcement that you would use in a bridge) you would have to splice the moment carrying (tension) steel reinforcement. I would probably splice the top steel in between the columns (TS), typically the lowest tension areas for the top steel and splice the bottom steel (SB) at the piers. (Typically the lowest tension area for the bottom steel)
Okay here is my question. If the top steel, at the splice point is always in compression (from your analysis of loads), would you use a compression splice or a tension splice? I would probably use a tension splice (development length) for all my splices, no matter if there is tension or not at that location. It is just easier and I know the tension splice is the most conservative option.
I am working on a concept for a partial girder replacement. We do this when the hit portion of a steel girder is too damaged to heat straighten. I think of these fixes as franken-girders. Cut out the damaged T-section and bolt in a new section with as many bolts as possible. (get it frankenstein had bolts…)
I did a quick sketchup model, click on an image for a larger view. The red portion is the cut out section. (I don’t favor splicing the section in the positive moment region but sometimes you have no choice.)
Updated: I had to go out so this post needs a little more information. When you cut out a section of the bottom flange in the positive moment region you lose the carrying capacity of the girder. Which means the deck (and deadload) has to be supported by a strongback. (pic added below) The strongback typically spans from pier to pier and uses bolts (or rods) through the deck to take the weight off. I think four strongbacks would be the best if all the girders need new sections but you probably use one at a time. (sorry the first few pics are large…and look distorted unless you zoom in..)
As a bridge designer I am fairly confident that I can design a budget friendly, semi-attractive bridge. But as an engineer I am behind the curve in expressing new ideas or developing presentation materials to describe my ideas. That is why I am trying to learn software such as Sketchup, Photoshop and how to make presentation videos with Flash. (then again maybe I have bad ideas, and they should stay quiet.)
Architects have good ideas but they also have the training to present their ideas in visually appealing ways. (Think about how many engineering powerpoints you have sat through with nothing but bullet points and how passionate you felt about their work. )
When I walked through the Chicago Institute of Art, I saw great Art. I saw the painting “American Gothic” (should it be in quotes? Man I’m also lousy at writing, sigh) by Grant Wood. I thought, wow, nice painting. Not, the painting reminded me of the great depression and the trials of American farmers in working their drought stricken land. Art needs a story and so do bridges.
“I wanted to do a very human bridge. A bridge that invited the people of one side to go into the other, and vice versa. Not only people who are jogging and so, but also regular citizens that take their bicycle and go for a tour in Prince’s Island or downtown. You see a mother with a child who push the small caddy. I wanted to do a very human bridge. I think that when the bridge was explained to me, was explained as a connection between one part of the city into another one, in which many people will go to work also by using bicycles or whatever. And I thought it is necessary to do a very human bridge.”
I never would have explained a bridge concept in this manner. Although that is the goal I am looking towards, designing bridges that are more than just utilitarian. (okay engineers stop rolling your eyes…)
Okay its a slow day in the ABC blogging world. In the past I made some short videos and posted them to YouTube.
It worked but I was a little unhappy with the quality after their compression system got a hold of it. So I got this idea of posting the video into my own account and then playing it from there. (ya, it was Youtubes fault my videos were bad, sure…..)
Big deal you say, just try to make a video, add a little play button using Actionscript 3.0 and it becomes a big production number.
I like the idea of videos showing bridge concepts because most people (including engineers) have a hard time imagining details from 2d drawings. (Well to be honest, I really just wanted to learn how to make flash videos.)
This video is just under 1Mb and I wanted to see how it played on the web. I’m not sure what the maximum size of flash video I can have on my site before everyone gets bored trying to view it. (Hey it moved, so it must still be loading..)
updated: I just looked at this on the web and all I can tell you is, the cars really move like that in real life……
I am still working on a concept to repair a steel girder bridge that was recently hit. The Alberta Transportation Department has a good introduction to repair techniques.
I am probably going to use a strongback, a beam/deck support used to carry the load while the girder is repaired.
While the strongback holds the load you cut out the damaged portion of the girder. (You will probably need a bunch of temporary falsework to hold up the girders on either side (underneath) of the cut out portion.) Then you place a new T-section and bolt it all together with a zillion bolts. (I suppose this only works in positive moment areas because you can’t replace the top flange without removing the deck.)
It should work but I think it might be fairly expensive to repair four girders and re-route two lanes of traffic.
The Transportation Research Board has put together a list of research topics and they are looking for consultants. I applied for one of the topics. (Hey stay away from my topic!) This is the first time that I have tried to submit a “letter of interest” and I’m not exactly sure what a winning letter looks like.
I like the concept but I wonder how many consultants apply? Not to be too cynical but I sometime feel it depends on who you know with these kinds of things……still I think it is a great idea and hopefully I will get to be involved!
I like the fact that you can click on an image and get a high resolution version of the bridge. He also seems to travel a lot and has some great pictures from Japan. I will add the link to my blogroll.
I was out in the field today looking at a steel girder bridge that was hit by an over height truck. Not sure what kind of truck it was but it hit all four girders in a four span bridge. The bottom flanges have rotated quite a bit and the webs have some interesting curves in them.
We shut the bridge down to traffic and now I have to figure out a way to fix it. A typical method is heat straightening of the girders. It may not be possible to straighten these girders but more drastic measures will cost a lot more money and keep the bridge closed for a long time. I feel sorry for the person driving the truck. His/her insurance will have to pay for the damage and it may cost them their job.
Fairly slow hot summer day. I have a new project to design. A 310′-0 two span concrete bridge with a width of 75′+. It has a skew of 45 degrees, which gives a pier cap about 108′ long. More about that bridge in the future.
Some good comments about the proposed Calatrava bridge in Calgary in the Calgary Herald.
It is actually quite startling in the best kind of way. It reminds me of comics I used to read in the early 1950s in which the cities of the future were filled with smooth, soaring, (technically impossible) buildings among which, were dreams unconstrained by insurance premiums, I should by now be flitting with my own personal jet pack.
However, Calgary is not Galactaville, and the year is not 2709.
The city’s urban design review panel has embraced Santiago Calatrava’s helix-like bridge, but has expressed concern about its shading, according to a Calgary Planning Commission document released Friday.
The panel of architects, planners and landscape architects has advised the city to carefully choose a red that doesn’t mimic the colours of the Calgary Stampeders or Flames, or the Calgary Stampede logo.
“A red that was very intense or pure red might have other associations with Calgary’s team colours,” said architect and panel chairman Martin Jones.
The Peace Bridge’s colour should appear more natural, since it’s designed to link the river area’s natural area with the modern architecture of Eau Claire and the downtown, says the group.
I developed a little book of classical structural analysis problems for a class I taught at the University. Problems like shear/moment diagrams, virtual work, moment distribution, method of sections/joints, etc.
I have also placed a “donate button” as an experiment. I always wondered if anyone actually donated for stuff they find on the web. (obviously I am not going to make any money on this) The book itself is fairly cheesy but remember the best part, FREE! I plan on adding more examples covering concrete design when I find the time….
One goal of accelerated bridge construction is to develop more techniques for substructure elements. This video shows a pier system using post-tensioned columns. How would you do this in a river system.
Okay this first video is not the best but I am learning how to use multiple software packages. I started with Sketchup, exported to Kerkythea to render the images and then made an AVI file in Adobe Premiere. Premiere was a little tricky to use. I made an AVI and then opened the file again to change the duration.
Of course I had to sign up on Youtube and upload a file. The result below is a prairie pier I designed and the video is terrible but you have to start somewhere…..(also really short!)