ART-CHITECTURE II: the artistry of bridges

My last architectural pose was based on buildings (“ART-CHITECTURE II: the artistry of buildings”). This post will focus on the interesting beauty of bridges, since they are also a from of architecture. Billions of people drive, cycle or walk bridges all around the world everyday, but how many of those people think about the wondrous dynamics (from their sturdy, intelligent construction to their awesome aesthetics) of bridges?

Architecture (Latin architectura, from the Greek ἀρχιτέκτων – arkhitekton, from ἀρχι- “chief” and τέκτων “builder, carpenter, mason”) is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings [and bridges!!-my words], are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art. Historical civilizations are often identified with their surviving architectural achievements.

Below, I have compiled a few images for a pleasant, optical journey. Enjoy!

Da Vinci Bridge. Norway. Construction headed by Norwegian artist Vebjørn Sand. Opened 2001.

I figured that the appropriate way to begin this article would be to feature a bridge originating with a master of art: Leonardo Da Vinci!

Leonardo Da Vinci sketched plans for this bridge in 1502 for Sultan Bajazet II  of Constantinople, but it wasn’t until 500 years later that the design was  brought to life by Norweigan artist Vebjørn Sand. The pedestrian bridge opened  in 2001 and crosses the E18 highway. …Da Vinci’s original plan called for the span to be 720 feet long, but Sand and  colleagues scaled it down to 300 feet and built the walkway from Norwegian pine. – The bridge is in Ås, Norway. Noooo, THAT A-word has an accent mark (NOT pronounced THAT way) and the word means ‘mountain ridge’…

Arrigoni Bridge (Charles J. Arrigoni Bridge). Connecticut. Designed by William G. Grove of the American Bridge Company and Leslie G. Sumner of the State Highway Department. Opened 1938.

The wave formation and vertebral framework are appealing. It’s a simple, and yet, charming design. A nicely bold structure. This bridge is in my homestate, so I made it second! Homestate!!!! Woooo!!!! (Okay. Non-obnoxious description below…)

The Arrigoni Bridge carries Route 66 and Route 17 over Route 9 and across the Connecticut River, connecting Middletown, Connecticut to Portland, Connecticut. The bridge has an average daily traffic of 33,600. … when it opened in 1938 the Arrigoni Bridge was the most expensive bridge, costing $3.5 million. With two 600 feet (180 m) steel arches, the bridge is still the longest of its kind in Connecticut. In 1938, the Arrigoni Bridge won the American Institute of Steel Construction’s first prize of “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the large bridge category. …It was named after the state legislator who promoted the project, Charles J. Arrigoni.  –

Python Bridge. Amsterdam. Architect is West 8. Constructed in 2000.

This footbridge is in Borneo-Sporenburg Island, Amsterdam (in the Eastern harbor). To me, it resembles an angular, bony snake with its skeleton exposed. That’s not a bad thing…that’s very awesome! Looks like a very fun bridge to stroll along. What does it resemble to you?

Yagen Bridge. Japan.

And now another red bridge located in a country I fantasize about visiting one day: Japan! The Yagen footbridge is so simple and because of its simplicity it is very lovely. The vibrant red with characteristic Asian design is a charming visual. I should hunt this bridge down if I get to travel to Japan, I would like to see this bridge or a few similar structures!

Sipapu natural bridge. Utah. Designed by God. Constructed A Long Time Ago.

Now to the Master MASTER (sorry, da Vinci) of architecture. GOD. He don’t need no bolts or equipment! He just seems to project a divine TA DA!! and there it is… Above, there, is a natural bridge. I thought I’d include a couple of these since they are relevant and also gorgeous wonders of nature!

Natural Bridges National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located about 50 miles (80 km) north west of the Four Corners boundary of southeast Utah, in the western United States, at the junction oof White Canyon and Armstrong Canyon, part of the Colorado River drainage. It features the second largest natural bridge in the world,carved from the white Permian sandstone of the Cedar Mesa Formation gives White Canyon its name.

The three bridges in the park are named Kachina, Owachomo, and Sipapu (the largest), which are all Hopi names. A natural bridge is formed through erosion by water flowing in the stream bed of the canyon. During periods of flash floods, particularly, the stream undercuts the walls of rock that separate the meanders (or “goosenecks”) of the stream, until the rock wall within the meander is undercut and the meander is cut off; the new stream bed then flows underneath the bridge. Eventually, as erosion and gravity enlarge the bridge’s opening, the bridge collapses under its own weight. There is evidence of at least two collapsed natural bridges within the Monument. –

Bryce Canyon. Utah. Also designed by God. Also constructed A Long Time Ago.

This is vastly FANTASTIC! I could only hope to see this one day. If I do, I will wear my camera OUT! Wow. Just woooow.

Bryce Canyon National Park  is a national park located in southwestern Utah in the United States. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon which, despite its name, is not a canyon but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. –

Main Street Bridge (John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge). Florida. Opened July 1941.
This is what it looks like lit up at night! There is also another bridge some distance from this one; you can see it peeking under this bridge (it has the dot-looking lights lining it and is called Acosta Bridge, which is the next bridge in this post).
A close up shot! I like to use my camera to explore details and angles.

The 3 photos above (the bottom two images are my shots) are of a bridge I have come to adore: Main Street Bridge spanning St. Johns River in Jacksonville (my new home). I am in awe of the entire structure; from the bold, industrial framework architecture to the aqua blue of it during the day to the rich, electric blue it takes on at night when lit. Love it!!

The Main Street Bridge, officially the John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge, is a bridge crossing the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the second bridge built across the river. It carries four lanes of traffic, and is signed as U.S. Route 1/US 90 (SR 5/SR 10). A lift bridge, it opened in July 1941at a cost of $1.5 million.In 1957 it was named after Mayor John T. Alsop, Jr., but continues to be known, even on road signs, as the Main Street Bridge. –

Acosta Bridge. Florida. Opened in 1994.

This is the bridge I referred to in one of my photos above. This is a lovely bridge as well! I haven’t been close to this structure as much as the Main Street Bridge, but it is superb construction as well.

The Acosta Bridge spans the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida on a fixed span. It was named for City Councilman St. Elmo W. Acosta, who convinced voters to approve a $950,000 bond issue for the original bridge. It carries SR 13 (six lanes) with the two-track JTA Skyway in the median. Prior to its replacement in 1991, the bridge, originally called St. Johns River Bridge, opened in 1921 and carried three lanes (center one reversible) on a lift bridge of similar design to the Main Street Bridge but was known as the Yellow Monster, largely for its tendency to stick in the upward position. Tolls were charged until 1940, earning more than $4 million for the City of Jacksonville. At some time in 1991, the original bridge was closed to allow construction of the new one to proceed.

Despite being a freeway, bicycles are permitted on the main lanes of the bridge.

The Acosta Bridge is also notable because of the blue neon lights that illuminate it at night. [<—-Just like Main Street Bridge!] –

The next two bridges are visually similar, but there is definitely one BIG difference. You’ll see…

Ravenel Bridge (Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge). South Carolina. Built by a joint venture of two major construction firms operating under the name Palmetto Bridge Constructors. The joint venture partners were Tidewater Skanska of Norfolk, Virginia and Flatiron Constructors of Longmont, Colorado. The construction joint venture hired Parsons Brinckerhoff to complete the design.-wikipedia Opened July 2005.

If  you are going to have a bridge named after you, let it be a cool a** bridge. When this Yankee girl lived in SC, I can recall hearing about the construction of this bridge on the local news from time to time. Also, I sometimes went to Charleston (where this bridge is located; it connects downtown “Chucktown” to Mount Pleasant, SC) and I always looked forward to taking the route that would result in crossing this bridge. It is breathtaking: the wide-spanning beauty of the fanned cable design combined with the surrounding lowcountry beauty. Wow. The fan look of the cables is repeated in the bridge below, but you will read what the literally big difference is that I am talking about.

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The eight lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the third longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere. …When officials revealed in 1995 that the Grace Bridge scored a 4 out of 100 for safety and integrity, retired U.S. Congressman Arthur Ravenel, Jr. ran for the South Carolina Senate with a goal of solving the funding problem. He helped to establish the S.C. Infrastructure Bank and worked with local, state, and federal officials to create partnerships that helped to materialize the final funding. –

Millau Viaduct. France. Designed by French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster. Opened December 2004.

Remember when I was describing that the Ravenel bridge in Charleston is the similar to this bridge above? The similarity that I said is the fan-like cables? That is where the similarities end. The BIG difference I was talking about is the freakin SIZE of this thing!! First of all, the bridge is extraordinarily gorgeous and lovely. A fantasy of bridge construction. It is located in Millau-Creissels, France.

The Millau Viaduct (French: le Viaduc de Millau, IPA: [vjadyk də mijo]) is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the river Tarn near Millau in southern France.

Designed by the French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, it is the tallest bridge in the world with one mast’s summit at 343.0 metres (1,125 ft) above the base of the structure. [That’s the BIG difference I mentioned!] It is the 12th highest bridge deck in the world, being 270 metres (890 ft)between the road deck and the ground below. The viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute axis from Paris to Montpellier. Construction cost was approximately €400 million. It was formally dedicated on 14 December 2004, inaugurated on the 15th, and opened to traffic on the 16th. The bridge received the 2006 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.

This bridge is like the Godzilla of bridges. No. Scratch that. This bridge is Godzilla’s daddy. If you have an aversion to crossing bridges, don’t try this one until you totally get over your nerves (gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges, by the way…don’t feel bad; just do something to maybe get over it, bridges aren’t so bad & you’ll be fine)…

Well, that is it for this episode of Art-chitecture! Be sure to also read my Art-chitecture page on buildings HERE. I will feature another page on buildings, bridges and other great stuff in the future!! Thanks for reading!

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