12 October 2011

Where are they now? Part 4

Okay, I did three previous posts where I looked back at some of the bridge schemes I had covered in previous years, asking what had happened to them after I had mentioned to them. Here is the final such roundup, for now at least.

Kraków Footbridge
Now, here was a fine one. The winner of a 2006 design competition was much panned at the time, largely because its architect had designed something that couldn't possibly stand up. In November 2009, I noted the project had undergone an interesting metamorphosis, with the ultra-slender concept being substantially fattened up until a structure emerged which could actually cope with iniquitous gravity.

At the time, I commented that funding seemed uncertain, but there has clearly been enough money in the pot to treat the design very seriously indeed. There were a couple of papers at the recent Footbridge 2011 conference on the Kazimierz-Ludwinów bridge (to give it the proper title), both from the architect and the engineers. These showed clearly that considerable effort has gone into the structure's development, and I've used an image from one paper as the illustration (click to enlarge).

The engineer's paper reported that the bridge had a PLN 37m budget, but that the lowest tender received in 2009 was PLN 3m above that, leading to the scheme's cancellation. I'm not sure, however, whether that is the end of the story, or whether there is more life in this project yet.

St Patrick's Bridge, Calgary
The main bridge story in Calgary has been Santiago Calatrava's Peace Bridge, which has been a fiasco from beginning to end, except for the fact that the sorry tale seems so far to have no end in sight. I last discussed it extensively in April, reporting on delays caused by shoddy welding.

The footbridge scheme at St Patrick's Island was always seen as its better-organised neighbour, procured through an open design competition, and won in March 2010 by a bridge which obeyed the laws of structural common sense (pictured, design by Halsall and RFR).

That's pretty much all I can report. The bridge concept was approved by a city committee earlier this year, but I haven't seen any other news. The promoter's website suggests construction will start before the end of 2011, but I haven't seen any sign that construction tenders have been invited yet.

Four Mile Run
I was accused of being a little unkind to the US bridge design competition at Four Mile Run, when in November 2009, I used it as an example of "How not to run a bridge design competition". Amongst my complaints were the lack of any engineering information or justification for the structure; an opaque judging process; the lack of guidance as to what the promoters actually wanted; and the fact that no funding appeared to be in place to actually appoint a designer, let alone build the bridge.

In April 2010, the three contest winners were announced, with a proposal by Arup and Grimshaw coming top. I was too busy at the time to say much about the top three designs, all of which can be seen on the competition website. Since that announcement, the contest website has not been updated and I could find no further news, none of which is any surprise given how the competition was set up.

Since I was so remiss at the time, here are the three shortlisted designs:

Arup / Grimshaw / Scape

Olin / Buro Happold / Explorations Architecture / L'Observatoire International

Rosales + Partners / Schlaich Bergermann / Simpson Gumpertz and Heger

New Royal Victoria Dock contest
Very near the end of 2009, I discussed a "competition" being held for a proposed new crossing of Royal Victoria Dock in London, to improve pedestrian access to an exhibition centre during the 2012 London Olympics. Entrants were being sought via an odd sort of competitive interview where teams were set a design challenge and observed in how they responded to it. I never covered the subject again.

It turns out that the contest was won by Ian Ritchie Architects and Atelier One. They came up with several ideas, such as pontoon structures and opening bridges, as well as the one pictured here, described as a "water boatman" bridge, essentially a ferry or cable-car structure re-imagined in rotational rather than translational space. Apparently, all involved with the scheme agreed this was the option which would be taken forward, but pressure on Olympic project costs then led to the entire scheme being cancelled.


Anonymous said...

I know that Four Mile came down to the client wanting a complete landmark design for less than $400K, which, although I'd like to see bridge projects be cheaper good design takes time and effort, so I doubt the winning entry will be built.

I have a feeling that this will be redesigned and end up being a simpler structure, without the landmark detailing.

So much for having a design competition and wasting the money on that than just appointing a designer and providing a greater budget for the actual design.

The Happy Pontist said...

There are many instances where a client runs a bridge design competition to obtain an aspirational design which is ill-matched to their budget, but Four Mile did seem particularly half-cocked.