Santiago Calatrava designs Peace Bridge in Calgary

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is working with local firm Stantec on the design and construction of the Peace Bridge, a landmark structure in central Calgary connecting the north side of the Bow River and the residential community of Sunnyside, which is richly landscaped with trees and grassed slopes – with the south side, the modern downtown landscape of the Eau Claire district.


The bridge structure is embedded as a sculptural, yet mathematically derived element into a naturally landscaped surrounding. The sculptural appearance of the bridge generates a striking contrast with the surrounding landscape. The structured shape is defined by a helix developed over an oval cross section with two clearly defined tangential radii creating an architectural space within. The upper openings are filled with glazed leaves bent to the same shape as the exterior of the helical form, offering protection to the users from the rain and winter weather conditions.


Bicycle lanes are positioned in the centre flanked by pedestrian lanes on either side separated by a curb. The bridge space is lit with linear lighting integrated into the structure of the bridge, and the handrail is supported by linear wayfinding illumination at floor level. Light elements below the deck enhance and highlight the sculptural appearance of the underside of the bridge at night, creating graceful reflections of the bridge in the water below.


The 125-metre-long bridge will be constructed of approximately 700 metric tons of steel with reinforced concrete abutments, while the cover and balustrades will be constructed of glass. Calatrava’s design for the bridge began in early 2009 with construction documents being finalized and issued for tender in September 2009.


The bridge is anticipated to open in the fall of 2010.