Shortlist picked for $550m Kosciuszko Bridge replacement
3 days ago
"The bridge is elegant. Difficult to build -yes, but elegant. As a Bridge engineer myself, I can only envy those who will be taking on this design and build challenge."
"It looks exciting, and design is not just about cheapness. It is better to design to please many and offend some, than to design to not offend anyone."One comment seeks to justify the "iconic" nature of the Sunderland bridge by comparison to past engineering glories:
"The world is scattered with costly design examples, not only of bridges, that are striking, memorable and, by Mr Bourne's theory, should never have been built. A few to ponder are The Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, The Forth Railway Bridge, etc."That one made me chuckle. The River Wear bridge adopts a design where the structural engineer has taken an entirely submissive attitude to their architect friend, essentially promising to make a vision work, at any cost, regardless of the Herculean structural feats required. Compare the Eiffel and Forth structures, where the engineer led the design and where the geometric form directly responds to the structural imperatives. The Sydney Opera House is, on the other hand, a better comparison: a completely unsuitable structural form, with an architect unwilling to compromise, where the work ran grossly behind programme and over budget. Today we can say this is justified by the enduring presence of an architectural masterpiece, but for the client at the time it was little short of a catastrophe.
"If you want, and can afford, to have an 'iconic' structure instead of a bog standard box girder bridge; Good, I'll design and supervise its construction. My brief is to make sure that it doesn't fall down or fail to meet building regulations. It is the promoter's responsibility to meet the cost!"This is a trait I hate to see in engineers - the view that we are simply the servants of the visions of those better suited, that we should only be the "calculators", in Le Corbusier's notorious phrase. That's not a world I would wish to work in - I'm happier in one where engineers can have their own vision, contribute actively to aesthetic, commercial and political discussions.
"I always said that if I was a client I would sue the design team of my project if it won an RIBA award on the basis that it would be over-priced, difficult to build and probably expensive to maintain."
"I'm afraid I have to categorize it as an architect's whim. It is overly complicated and does not present a clear structural statement of what it is trying to achieve."
"... it fits into the architects inflated ego category and an extreme waste of public funds."
"A wonderful monument to architects sticking two fingers up at economic construction - and the councellors all too dazzled to call for sanity. I have no objection to landmark structures and abhor utilitarian design, but surely in these days of economic constraint it is better to get an economically designed project constructed ASAP - and have change left over for the next one - rather than splash out on expensive fantasies."As I've observed before, a distaste for extravagance is deeply ingrained in the engineering psyche. If a student over-designs the reinforcement in a beam section, they will fail their test - the working assumption throughout an engineering education is that economy is king, and the engineer's job is to minimise materials and cost. The possibility that what we design can have a value beyond the purely functional is rarely if ever acknowledged.
"Investment in infrastructure which is well designed, encourages growth, and reinforces social, environmental and economic sustainability is highly valuable."
"has been rigorously designed, costed, admired and backed within the industry and profession, including the Institution for Civil Engineers which presented the project with a CEEQUAL award ... The project is functional and symbolic, and its regeneration benefits were recognised by the Department for Transport in its decision to award funding."Sunderland's website for the project reproduces much of the relevant documentation. The most interesting in the context of the present debate are the reports which attempt to put a value on the choice of a bridge with striking rather than commonplace aesthetics. These calculate that the landmark bridge design offers £33m of economic benefits which wouldn't apply to a conventional girder bridge design, most of that in generation of employment.