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This design for a bridge in Columbus, Indiana, commissioned to commemorate the five-hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in America, creates a sequence of experiences leading one across a river and into the town that makes it an unprecedented urban gateway. The approach road is designed as a gently sweeping curve, gradually rising upward as it crosses the bridge until the two most important vertical buildings in the city the County Courthouse Tower and Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church are perfectly framed by the outstretched columns of the new structure. This dramatic first view of the city begins with the traveler passing through a dense arbor of trees that conceals all views to the city. The splayed columns spread further and further apart, rising taller and taller, in anticipation of a final crescendo as the city skyline ultimately bursts into view. Simultaneously, the splay of the columns allows guide wires to parallel the neutral axis, thereby increasing the efficiency of the bridge and significantly reducing its cost. The irregular paving of the road intensifies the anticipation of approach through punctuated and percussive sounds. At its peak, the curving road becomes smooth and quiet, descending axially in a straight line between columns, to suddenly offer a spectacular view of the city skyline.


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