A Skipping Stone Spans the Bow River in Calgary, Canada

Canada-based Halsall Associates Limited and French firm RFR together have won the conceptual design competition for the new St. Patrick’s footbridge in Alberta, Canada. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) chose the approach taken by RFR/Halsall specifically because it complements the natural splendor of the surrounding community.

“We are pleased to become part of the East Village community,” said John Ford, a lead engineer with Halsall Associates Limited in Calgary. “We wanted the structure to blend in with the aesthetics of the area yet embody functionality for the surrounding community.” Halsall has been designing innovative and complex structures across Canada for over 50 years and is excited to be part of such an important structure in the city’s civic architecture.

As part of an effort to develop the East Village into a dynamic community that integrates into the downtown core, CMLC commissioned the international contest in September 2009. From 33 initial submissions from major firms across the world, three finalists were chosen to participate in a public presentation and were subject to the opinions of not only the CMLC, but of interested Calgarians.

“The structure is simple, but unique,” said Jean-François Blassel, RFR director and project lead. “Our design and materials respond to a functional need as well as to the beautiful natural lines of the area, and we are excited that Calgarians appreciated our approach.” With more than 27years of experience designing and building bridges in major global cities, including Paris, France, Hanover, Germany, and Abud Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, RFR was eager to apply its methods to a bridge in Canada.

The pedestrian bridge is 170 meters in length and is split into three arches of 50, 30 and 90 meters in length. The bridge will connect St. Patrick’s Island to the East Village to the south and to the Bow River path system to the north. As the bridge meets St. Patrick’s Island, it becomes a true viewing spot where passers-by can take in the surrounding environment. The bridge may feature animated lighting triggered by motion, making it a truly interactive experience Calgarians can call their own.

The CMLC’s international contest judged both architectural and engineering components of each submission. The CMLC Board of Directors was impressed with the sensibility, aesthetics and thematic approach taken by RFR/Halsall. The arches were particularly remarkable to Calgarians as some saw them mimic a stone skipping across the river while others saw rolling hills or a Chinook arch in the bridge’s profile.

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