Summer 2019

ASPIRE is a quarterly magazine published by PCI in cooperation with the associations of the National Concrete Bridge Council. The editorial content focuses on the latest technology and key issues in the Concrete Bridge Industry.

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P E R S P E C T I V E 10 | ASPIRE Summer 2019 Aesthetics in Public Works Last summer, my wife and I took our younger grandson on a tour of Pittsburgh, Pa. The big attraction was the dinosaur exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Of course, Pittsburgh is also known for its bridges, with more than 400 sizable bridges in and around the city. The decorator of our hotel must have had that reputation in mind when selecting an image of one of those bridges, the Roberto Clemente Bridge, to place on a wall in our room. The next day, we discovered that the Carnegie Science Center was hosting a LEGO ® exhibit. That is a not-to-be-missed event if you are 8 years old. So, of course, we went. When we arrived, we found that the exhibit contained a LEGO ® model of the very same bridge. O f t h e h u n d r e d s o f b r i d g e s i n Pittsburgh, why did both the hotel decorator and the LEGO ® modeler pick the Roberto Clemente Bridge, which is neither the largest nor the most prominent bridge in the area? The answer is that this particular bridge has so captured the imagination of residents and visitors alike that it has become a widely recognized symbol of Pittsburgh the city. Being one of three identical bridges that cross the Alleghany River in downtown Pittsburgh reinforces the impression this bridge makes. That impression could have been quite different. In 1926, when the decision was made to build these three bridges, Allegheny C o u n t y 's B u re a u o f B r i d g e s p u t forward the then-accepted standard design for bridges of this size: through Pratt trusses. However, Pittsburgh's Commission of Fine Arts objected, arguing that three identical through- truss bridges would block views of the downtown and mimic every other city's bridges. Pittsburgh deserved better. So, the Bureau of Bridges was given a new set of aesthetic criteria for the project. It went back to the drawing board to find a distinctive and memorable design that would not block views of downtown. To its credit, the bureau chose an innovative bridge type that satisfied t h e s e c r i t e r i a , t h e s e l f - a n c h o re d suspension bridge. The design met the difficult navigation clearance requirements of the sites while creating three memorable bridges. These bridges cost more than the trusses would have, but did the additional cost create an offsetting value for the public? Now, 93 years later, the decisions of the hotel decorator and the LEGO ® modeler suggest that the investment has paid off. The civic value of the three bridges is demonstrated by their current names. They recognize two of Pittsburgh's famous sons, baseball player Roberto Clemente (Sixth Street) and artist Andy Warhol (Seventh Street), and by Frederick Gottemoeller Yes, we are in Pittsburgh. Photo: Frederick Gottemoeller. The symbol of Pittsburgh constructed from LEGO ® pieces. Photo: Frederick Gottemoeller. The Roberto Clemente Bridge spanning the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pa. Photo: Nathan Holth,

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