Structural engineer Ted Zoli has received much recognition since September 11th as a leading expert in bridge design to withstand explosives, but for his latest project, he has turn to nature for inspiration. Zoli, winner of a 2009 MacArthur Genius Grant, plans to bridge the gap between two existing outdoor spaces in Brooklyn, one being a small paved park located on the north side of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the other is the 85-acre Brooklyn Bridge Park located along the waterfront. The Squibb Park Bridge will span 396 feet and peak at 30 feet above ground, with the most impressive element being the use of black locust as the primary material. The tree species, native to the southeast but spotted around the northeast, is a prominent sustainable material used throughout the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s landscape.
Squibb Park Bridge is a first for Zoli, whose project was awarded $4.9 million in city funding last July. He wanted to build upon the existing landscaping in Brooklyn Bridge Park with the use of black locust. The material won’t just look nice among the existing landscape, however, it will also withstand wear and tear thanks to its extremely durability and rot-resistant nature. Six and ten inch diameter pieces of black locust will act as the components of the footpath that will be supported by poured-concrete pillars and suspended by steel cables.
The bridge has come a long way from earlier designs that resembled wooded bridges found in state-parks. The bridge is much more complex and is a perfect mix of natural and industrial elements. Unfortunately, we have to wait until next summer for the bridge to be complete and open to pedestrians. In the meantime, the design has opened up new possibilities for smart strategies for bridge construction, including the use of natural materials for vehicular bridges in rural areas.
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