When it comes to aesthetics, the design of crisscrossing pipe for Tempe Town Lake pedestrian bridge is open, elegant and clean.
As for functionality, the bridge, which is currently under construction, connects the northern and southern shores of the lake so that thousands of bicyclists, runners and walkers won’t have to deal with cars.
But the bridge will serve an additional infrastructure purpose: it will shade rubber bladders which form a dam. Furthermore, the bridge will have a sprinkler system that will also keep these bladders cool and wet to prevent the kind of deterioration that had caused a flood recently.
The snake-like pedestrian bridge designed by internationally renowned architect, Frank Gehry, complements the curves of his music pavilion, allows for the passage of pedestrians from the concert area of Millennium Park towards Chicago’s Lake Michigan, and additionally serves as a noise barrier between busy Columbus drive and the music venue.
Also in Millennium Park is the Nichols Bridgeway designed by another famous architect, Renzo Piano. In deliberate contrast to Gehry’s sinuous design, Piano’s bridge looks like a sleek racing yacht with a curved hull and a flat deck. Offering a passage over Monroe Street, the structure provides wonderful views of the park, the lake and a variety of significant architecture including buildings on Michigan Avenue and Piano’s new Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. But perhaps the most important feature of this bridge is that it drives traffic from Millennium Park to the Museum.
Curved steel can help make pedestrian bridges less pedestrian by increasing their beauty, by enhancing the experience of crossing the bridge, and by serving additional purposes like protecting the infrastructure, muffling noise at a concert, and driving visitors to a museum.