Category I Building to Bridge

This project category is to develop a design for a pedestrian bridge that will enrich its location and provide a vital spatial connection. Pedestrian bridges bring together architecture and engineering in a unique way. Free from deeply technical requirements, they can be playful with their structure and form and assume an iconography associated with their purpose of connection and sense of place. Steel construction offers students great benefits in this endeavour, as it allows for wider spans and more creativity. Steel must be used as the primary structural material, with special emphasis placed on innovation in steel design. 

Steel has played an important role in bridge design. With the advances in structural materials and construction methods, longer spans have become possible, enabling the connections of places and cultures. Bridge design is one of the most pure areas for testing architectural ideas. With the primary function “to span”, the bridge can openly exploit its method of span as an integral driver to its architecture and detailing.

The bridge must include an ancillary function – anchor pavilion – that creates a destination and supports the cause for crossing. This could be an interpretive center, gift shop, library, or small museum that serves to explain and enhance the location and the experience of crossing. Since the construction of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, pedestrian bridges have often had auxiliary programs added to the function of connection or passage. Places to sit, view or perform frequently add a more architectural component to the idea of the bridge. 

The project will concentrate on formulating specific thoughtful concepts and designs and carrying these ideas to a detailed level. The project should be developed with an integrative approach to building materials and systems—structural, environmental, enclosure, etc.—while maintaining an overall design concept. Participants will develop a selected physical area of the project in greater detail considering the building or bridge’s structural and technical issues through larger-scale drawings. Through rendered perspectives and elevations, the proposals should demonstrate surface qualities including material, color, texture, and light. The design should reflect best practices in the use of Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel, including an understanding of the fabrication and erection of the bridge and its associated auxiliary components.

Along with structural, tectonic and technical issues above, designs should respond to context (larger regional influences of geography, topography and latitude), climate (sun, wind, light and water), and culture (patterns of interaction rising from human occupation of place). Projects should be designed in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

The general program is outlined below. The program should guide development of a rich sequence of experiences: from the anchor pavilion that introduces the theme of the bridge as crossing, to views of the bridge and from the bridge, as well as aspects of the occupation of the bridge. 


Following are the required building components to be incorporated in the design projects. This program should be used as guidance in the submittals, but can be adapted for use by the participants.

Pedestrian Bridge:
Should allow for multiple modes of self-propelled transportation such as
bicycles or wheelchairs.   

           48' minimum span
Must support or create a destination that will anchor the pedestrian bridge.
Must contain the following spaces:

Public Restrooms 

required by code
Public Area:
Main public space of the pavilion, with function to be determined
by the participant. 
(interpretive center, gift shop, library, or small museum)
  1,000 sqft 
  400 sqft 
Storage / Receiving  
  300 sqft 
Total Pavilion Minimum sqft 

5,000 sqft min.
Outdoor Space(s)    TBD by participant  

The bridge should be sited on a lot or spanning lots, to be chosen by the faculty sponsor and/or the student. The criteria for site selection include the following:

Context: the site should be located in an easily reached area of the city
Access: the bridge and its associated ancillary building should be fully accessible and able to provide easy passage for pedestrians, bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs. 

Refer to the International Building Code and the local zoning ordinance for information on parking requirements, height restrictions, set backs, easements, flood, egress, and fire containment. Accessibility guidelines need to be followed; refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with the principals of Universal Design. 

The design project must be conceived in structural steel construction. A strategy should be considered that evaluates a method for taking advantage of steel’s properties and characteristics in order to conceptualize and propose a critical evaluation of the design solution. 

Each presentation must directly address the criteria outlined in the Design Challenge and Criteria for Judging and must include (but are not limited to) the following required drawings:

  • Site plan showing the surrounding buildings, topography, and circulation patterns 
  • Detailed rendering of the pedestrian bridge, clearly showing the steel structural system and bridge span. 
  • Floor plans
  • Building/Site sections sufficient to show site context and major program elements
  • Large scale drawing(s), either orthographic or three dimensional, illustrating the use of structural steel
  • Three dimensional representation, either in the form of an axonometric, perspective, or model photographs – one of which should illustrate the character of the project. 

 Submission must include:

  • 4 digital boards at 20” x 20” 
  • Illustrate graphically or otherwise the use of steel construction 
  • A design essay or abstract (500 words maximum) 

Incomplete or undocumented entries will be disqualified. All drawings should be presented at a scale appropriate to the design solution and include a graphic scale and north arrow.