14 July 2009

Calatrava bridge kept hush-hush

I've commented previously on the city of Calgary's extravagant scheme to build two $25m footbridges designed by Santiago Calatrava, an appointment made at great expense ($3.3m designer's fees) without any competition. I had been waiting to see what would result, with the designs originally due to be made public in May.

Two months later, and still no sign of the designs, it has become apparent that despite the city's appointment of a designer normally associated with maximising publicity, they are strangely reluctant to make the most of this opportunity for hype.

The Calgary Herald reports that unveiling of the first design has now been put back to August. The lucky few who have seen the design are quoted variously as saying:

"It's not the big bang. It's not the big statement people have come to expect from his work"

"Lovely . . . different that anything I've seen from Calatrava before"
I'm reminded of Caltrava's Ponte della Costituzione in Venice, a relatively shallow and modest arch offering a marked contrast to the designer's more usual structural acrobatics. Despite its extravagant cost, it was opened without ceremony. Initial rows over its lack of access for the disabled gave way to complaints from injured tourists.

It's unclear quite why Calgary are withholding the design, but I'd expect the bridge will be the subject of a great deal more debate once locals finally do get to see what they're getting for their money.

Elsewhere in the bridges world, a couple more brief news items rate a mention.

I've mentioned previously Glasgow's Tradeston Bridge and its vulnerability to climbing, but it seems efforts to deter the intrepid are failing.

Also the 2009 Structural Steel Design Awards include a couple of deserving bridges: the Kew Aerial Walkway, by Jane Wernick and Marks Barfield, and the Castleford Footbridge, by Tony Gee, Alan Baxter and McDowell Benedetti (covered here previously).


Mutt said...

The city has unveiled it plans on this bridge: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/calgary/story/2009/07/28/calgary-peace-bridge-drawings.html?ref=rss#socialcomments

Seems like an awful lot of money for something that doesnt stand out as being special.

Seems very similar to the M8 Harthill footbridge in Glasgow

The Happy Pontist said...

Yes, I saw the news a short while ago. I'll put up a post when I get a chance, although I'm off on holiday/vacation soon so may not get the time to say much!

Pedestrian said...

My first thought was of the Glasgow bridge as well.

I also thought of the double helix in Singapore