the art of Spanish Bridge Design

Bridges are one of the most impressive man made constructions. Bridges defy nature, eliminate frontiers and enable communication and progress. For these reasons bridges have inspired poets, artists, film makers and generations of young people who, stimulated by their view and the challenge they imply, dreamt of becoming bridge engineers. The Art of Spanish Bridge Design website and exhibition tells the story of a selection of Spanish structures and their engineers, ranging from breathtaking, world-record bridges to humble, yet marvelous footbridges. These works provide a window into the culture of creative, passionate engineers, who seek perfection in details, believe in the power of sketching, acknowledge the importance of the environmental context and construction process, and have a broad culture that embraces art and humanities in addition to engineering. These engineers master the “technical” but they are not restrained by it. The result is an impressive catalog of structures that possess a value beyond the material.

This exhibition The Art of Spanish Bridge Design, is located at the Friend Center Library, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, and it was conceived in the spirit of four preceding projects, The Art of Structural Design: A Swiss Legacy, Félix Candela: Engineer, Builder, Structual Artist, Fazlur Khan: Structural Artist of Urban Building Forms, and Evolution of German Shells: Efficiency in Form. This exhibition features the Spanish tradition of bridge design and is a result of the Fall 2014 term of the course “CEE463: A Social and Multi-Dimensional Exploration of Structures.” Students learned the engineering principles behind bridges, and their social and symbolic dimensions. This integrated perspective was developed through detailed analysis of the bridges, meetings with their engineers, first-hand experiences of the bridges in their context from site visits to Spain, and the process of building the exhibited models. The stimulating experience of model creation challenged students to overcome conceptual problems similar to those encountered in the construction of the bridges in actuality.

To see a brief video about the course, click here: Course Video

To see a news release, click here: News Releases

We are grateful to many people, acknowledged below, who saw the importance and value of such a course and made the CEE463 Fall 2014 edition and accompanying exhibition possible. They have provided a means to teach and inspire a new generation:Council of the Humanities: D. Feeney & K. Crown. Lewis Center for the Arts: M. Cadden. 250th Anniversary Fund: C. Marsh & V. Smith. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering: J. Smith. School of Engineering and Applied Science: V. Poor & J. Kasdin. Keller Center: M. Chiang.J. Glassman - teaching assistant and photographer. L. Zhang & T. Huynh - graphic design. J. Vocaturo - CEE Lab Technician, assistance with models. A. Shkuda - Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and Humanities. A. Alsina - Lecturer of Spanish Language, Linguistics and Culture. C. Boix - Professor of Politics and Public Affairs. A. Baruzzi - Librarian Engineering Library. V. Sestier = kindergarten teacher. R. Serrano - virtual tour of the exhibition.G. Capellán, J. Martínez (Arenas y Asociados). J. Sobrino (Pedelta). J. Romo (Fhecor). O. Ramos (Apia XXI). J. Simón-Talero (Torroja Ingeniería). P. Tanner (Cesma Ingenieros). M. Guisasola (Anta Ingeniería Civil). P. Jiménez (ADIF). L. Fernández Troyano, J. Manterola, A. Martínez Cutillas, L. Fernández Muñoz, G. Ayuso, M. Escamilla (Carlos Fernández Casado S.L.). P. Cavero (joint venture FCC Construcción-Conduril). J.L. Manzanares, V. Vicent y A. Molina (Ayesa). J.M. Morejón, R. de los Reyes (joint venture Dragados-Drace Infraestructuras).

Finally, we are thankful to Princeton University for recognizing the value of such a course as part of the engineering education and the following Princeton persons and institutions for their financial support for the course development: D. Feeney and K. Crown (Council of the Humanities), M. Cadden (Lewis Center for the Arts),  C. Marsh and V. Smith (250th Anniversary Fund), J. Kasdin and V. Poor (School of Engineering and Applied Science), J. Smith (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), M. Chang (Keller Center).

Ignacio Payá-Zaforteza and Maria Garlock
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Princeton University
January 2015