THE CONCRETE BRIDGE MAGAZINE

SUMMER 2018

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.

Issue link: http://www.aspiremagazinebyengineers.com/i/995102

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F O C U S F O C U S F r e d G o t t e m o e l l e r 's o n e - p e r s o n aesthetic consulting firm, Bridgescape, stresses the impact that aesthetic design can have on a bridge's reception and success. The author of a 2004 book for engineers, Bridgescape: The Art of Designing Bridges, 1 he rejects the notion that an aesthetic design must cost more and encourages engineers to make aesthetics a priority in every project. " E n g i n e e r i n g e d u c a t i o n g i v e s n o guidance on aesthetic elements," Gottemoeller says. "It focuses on creating functional structures, with the appearance resulting strictly from engineering design parameters. We need to encourage engineers to express their aesthetic ideas during design. They often don't feel qualified to do so, but they are. Some of the best aesthetic ideas I see come from engineers." 'Some of the best aesthetic ideas I see come from engineers.' Five Fundamental Ideas Gottemoeller's book outlines five fundamental ideas that often are overlooked or disputed but stand as core truths. Fifteen years after the book was published, he believes those elements remain the same. "They're common concepts that trace back to the Greeks," he states. "That's one reason I haven't felt it necessary to update the book." All bridges make an impact. "The bridge will make an impression: of excitement, appreciation, repulsion, or perhaps boredom," Gottemoeller wrote. This holds true whether or not the engineer intentionally plans that impact. People can agree on what is beautiful for bridges. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but, Gottemoeller argued, that does not mean people can't agree on what is attractive. Key elements for bridges include simplicity of elements, thinness, continuous lines, and shapes that reflect the magnitude of forces (that is, the thickest shapes indicate where forces are greatest). Engineers must take responsibility for the aesthetic impact of their bridges. "Engineers are used to dealing with issues of performance, efficiency, and cost, but they must also be prepared to deal with the issues of appearance," Gottemoeller wrote. They can't avoid these issues by focusing on structural elements and leaving aesthetics to others, he stressed. "The appearance is dominated by the shapes and sizes of the structural elements themselves, not by details, colors, or surfaces." E n g i n e e r s s h o u l d c o n s i d e r g o o d a p p e a r a n c e t o b e c o - e q u a l w i t h strength, safety, and cost. Some engineers believe achieving compelling aesthetics automatically compromises other core requirements or adds cost because aesthetic designs add features such as color or special finish materials. "In fact," Gottemoeller wrote, "The greatest aesthetic impact is made by the structural members themselves. If they are attractive, then the bridge will be attractive." Details, colors, and surfaces add aesthetic interest, but they may not always add sufficient aesthetic impact to justify the additional cost. Aesthetic ability is a skill that can be acquired and developed by engineers, as well as anyone else. "Engineers can lear n what makes bridges attractive, and engineers can Bridgescape: A Leader in Aesthetic Engineering Bridgescape LLC owner Fred Gottemoeller stresses attractive designs without sacrificing function, integrity, or budget—and he encourages engineers to unleash their creative side. by Craig A. Shutt Gottemoeller worked to refine the aesthetics of the St. Croix River Crossing in Stillwater, Minn., which connects to Wisconsin. The bridge features an extradosed design with stayed, post-tensioned concrete box girders. Photo: Minnesota Department of Transportation. 6 | ASPIRE Summer 2018

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