Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, San Diego suspension structure, Californian architecture photos
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge in San Diego
Mar 17, 2023
Architecture: Safdie Rabines Architects
Location: Balboa Park / San Diego Bay, Southern California, USA
Photos by Pablo Mason and Safdie Rabines Architects
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, USA
The Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge iconic bridge connects Balboa Park to the San Diego Bay, completing the city’s 100-year-old vision of a Park-to-Bay link. It also provides a safe crossing over the heavily traveled Harbor Drive and existing train and trolley tracks, and links the San Diego Convention Center and a multi-level parking garage on the bay side with a main route into the city’s downtown and nearby Petco Park. The curved 550-ft span of the bridge is supported by a unique 130-ft tall inclined pylon that supports stainless steel wrapped suspension cables attached along one edge of the bridge deck. A two-cab structural glass elevator tower showcases its cables and mechanics, while connecting the plaza level to the bridge deck.
What was the goal?
The goal of the design was to create an iconic landmark for the city’s bay front. The structure is meant to enhance downtown’s skyline and serve as a gateway to the city.
How is the project unique?
At 550 feet, this footbridge is one of world’s longest self-anchored suspension bridges. The main 354-foot curved span is suspended from a unique 131-ft tall, 60-degree inclined pylon. This pylon supports a pair of stainless-steel wrapped suspension cables whose 34 suspenders attach to the bridge deck along its inner edge. The 20-ft wide, 3-ft thick bridge deck provides plenty of room for the crowds that cross it on game days and during events at the convention center.
What were the key challenges?
The design and detailing of this project required innovative solutions that both challenged conventional bridge methods and provided new architectural models for future bridge designers. The 500-ft curved span of the bridge is supported by a unique 130-ft tall inclined pylon which supports stainless steel wrapped suspension cables attached along one edge of the bridge deck.
In order to complement the skeletal and sculptural nature of the bridge, a structural glass elevator tower was created that houses two elevator cabs, connecting the plaza level to the bridge deck and showcasing the elevators’ inner-workings.
What building materials were used?
The bridge’s palette includes durable and cost-effective materials that enhance the pedestrian experience. These elements include architectural concrete finishes and textured walking surfaces, stainless-steel hand railings, and safety screening made of stainless-steel aircraft cable mesh. This particular safety mesh not only protects trains passing underneath, but also virtually disappears from a distance, preserving views of the bridge’s key structural components.
The bridge’s painted steel structure is also wrapped in stainless steel to weather the marine environment for decades to come. To facilitate accessibility, a structural glass elevator tower was designed to complement the bridge’s skeletal and sculptural nature. It houses two elevator cabs that connect the plaza level to the bridge deck, displaying the elevators’ mechanical inner-workings.
Architectural lighting highlights the steel cables, pylon, and underside of the deck, while indirect deck lighting and under-tread LEDs stair lights illuminate the passage. Custom hardscape and drought-tolerant landscape are incorporated at the bridge landings and the central pylon area, creating welcoming yet low-maintenance entry and exit plazas.
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge in California, USA – Building Information
Architecture: Safdie Rabines Architects – https://www.safdierabines.com/
Engineer: T.Y. Lin International
Completion date: 2011
Photography: Pablo Mason and Safdie Rabines Architects
Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge, San Diego, California images / information received 170323 from Safdie Rabines Architects
Location: San Diego, California, United States of America
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