March 24, 2012: A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum
March 3, 2012: The Irish Festival at Fair Park
Return to the Index for 2012


March 4, 2012
Dallas's Calatrava Bridge Opens

 


For a number of years, Dallas citizens have heard the City Council debating some "symbol" for the city (other than Reunion Tower or Cowboy Stadium or even one of the old bridges across the Trinity River), and settled years ago on a bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls, a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer, who is now regarded as one of the world's elite designers.

This weekend, the new bridge, supposedly one of three that will be built, opened with a fireworks celebration Saturday night. That celebration was a closed affair, by invitation and paid admission only, but today, Sunday, the bridge will be open for pedestrians to walk across- before it is opened to actual traffic next week. And pedestrians had better walk across it today if they ever want to; the bridge was, inexplicably, designed without any pedestrian walkways.

So that's what we did this afternoon- drove down to the bridge, parked, and then walked back and forth across it- along with a great many other Dallasites. Basically, all we did today was snap pictures of the bridge from various angles, since we won't have the opportunity to do that once the bridge opens to traffic. So this page will sport lots of clickable thumbnails (like the ones below) that you can use to see some of the many pictures we took:

Calatrava was born in Spain and educated at the Polytechnic University of Valencia- including post-graduate coursework in urbanism. During that time, he brought out two books on the architecture of Valencia and Ibiza. He did his graduate work in civil engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. Finally, in 1981, after completing his doctoral thesis, "On the Foldability of Space Frames", he started his architecture and engineering practice.

Calatrava's early career was largely dedicated to bridges and train stations, with designs that elevated the status of civil engineering projects to new heights (no pun intended).


We saw his Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona, Spain, when we were there on our trip to Copenhagen and subsequent cruise (an album page you've already seen). Since I have written these pages a bit out of order, I can also report that we will see, later this year, his bridge north of the town of Dubrovnik, Croatia. That tower was a turning point in his career, leading to a wide range of subsequent commissions. The Quadracci Pavilion (2001) of the Milwaukee Art Museum was his first building in the United States. Calatrava's entry into high-rise design began with an innovative 54-story-high twisting tower called Turning Torso (2005), located in Malmö, Sweden. If you've been going chronologically through this album, you have see pictures of our visit to that structure as well.

Calatrava has designed a futurisitc train station, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.

Calatrava's style has been heralded as bridging (again, no pun intended) the division between structural engineering and architecture. In the projects, he continues a tradition of Spanish modernist engineering. His style is also very personal, and derives from numerous studies of the human body and the natural world. It seems to us that from his work that we have seen, the hallmark of his style is a series of graceful curves. The clickable thumbnails below will show you a few pictures that will illustrate:

The three bridges that will (supposedly) span the Trinity River here are good examples of Calatrava's work. It is the first of these bridges- the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, named after donor Margaret Hunt Hill- that is opening this week. If the remaining bridges are completed, Dallas will join the Dutch county of Haarlemmermeer in having three Calatrava bridges.


So Dallas is now getting a taste of this renowned architect with his latest project. This bridge is one of three that are planned, but there is currently some question as to whether the other two will find funding. The bridges are part of Dallas's Trinity River Project- a project whose goals are to mitigate flooding and relieve downtown traffic congestion without sacrificing elegance.

“During my first visit to Dallas, I realized that the river basin had the potential to be of defining importance to the city’s future development,” Calatrava said. “I envisioned a recreational facility as important to Dallas as Central Park is to New York City.”

Construction for the project began in 2007, and the city hopes that the Trinity River becomes its own attraction, instead of something to merely drive by. Some 14,000 vehicles are expected to cross the bridge each day; a sister bridge to replace the nearby Interstate 30 bridge is also in the works.


Not only is the bridge itself quite beautiful (although its beauty was having to fight all the porta-potties and construction stuff left over from the previous night's celebration), but it is, for this one day, a great place from which to view the downtown core of the city of Dallas- relatively close-up.


So of course we took quite a few pictures that featured the Dallas skyline, because after the bridge opens next week, there will be no way to get out on it for the view.


Both of us took this opportunity also to make some panoramic pictures of downtown Dallas. Fred's camera does that automatically, while I had to stitch together up to five pictures to create mine (but I am not complaining- it's fun to do). Anway, here are the three panoramas we made, with Fred's first:

 

 

 

We got our fill of pictures, but at least I wasn't done quite yet. I wanted to make a couple of movies looking around at the bridge and at downtown Dallas. I took four or five, but have put movie players below for just the best two of them:

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The View From the Calatrava Bridge
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The Calatrava Bridge

We walked back towards town and down off the bridge via one of the ramps (that also don't have sidewalks) and back to where we'd found a parking place. There was also a good view of downtown from where we'd parked the car. So much for out one and only one time to stand in the middle of Dallas's Calatrava Bridge.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


March 24, 2012: A Visit to the Dallas Arboretum
March 3, 2012: The Irish Festival at Fair Park
Return to the Index for 2012