City of Calgary celebrates inauguration of signature Calatrava bridge

On March 24, 2012, the City of Calgary celebrated the opening of Santiago Calatrava’s signature Peace Bridge. The red twisting helix shaped pedestrian bridge is unlike any of the renowned architect’s other designs. Known for his soaring, vertical icons, Calatrava opted to design a low single-span bridge in order to meet geometrical constraints. With a no-fly zone enacted above the bridge due to a nearby heliport and the high water and ice levels of the Bow River beneath it, Calatrava had an envelope of only seven metres in which to create his signature bridge.

Additionally, the Peace Bridge was designed without supporting piers in the riverbed in order to minimize impact on the surrounding environment. These parameters influenced Calatrava’s decision to proceed with a tubular steel truss bridge; a highly technical yet visually stunning design.

“Although the design concept for the Peace Bridge is very challenging, it is one that I am extremely proud of,” said Santiago Calatrava. “It has been an honour and a pleasure to work in this beautiful city.”

When Calatrava was first commissioned by the City of Calgary to design a pedestrian bridge over the Bow River, he was greatly inspired by his surroundings. The architect noticed that despite harsh winters, bicyclists, joggers and other pedestrians continued to use the river pathways and bridges. Therefore, he wanted to provide the citizens of Calgary with an aesthetically pleasing structure that would also offer protection from the extreme natural elements. The result is an awe-inspiring permeable, yet enclosed bridge that is as functional during the winter as it is during the summer.