A sculptural, curved steel pedestrian bridge whose form was inspired by the “gravity-defying motion of athletes” has been hoisted into place above an active rail yard on the southwestern periphery of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the 250-foot-long, 550-ton span connects to the newly opened U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, also designed by DS+R, and links the ultra-accessible 60,000-square-foot museum complex with America the Beautiful Park, a 30-acre green space with an expansive children’s play area and landmark fountain that’s situated on the opposite side of the train tracks. The park is closed while work continues on the bridge, which is slated to open the public in early 2021.
Taking the form of two interlocked loops, the prefabricated $20 million bridge—formally known as the Southwest Downtown Pedestrian Bridge—provides a long-sought connection between downtown Colorado Springs and the crowd-drawing park. Wedged between train tracks and the Ronald Reagan Highway, the latter is situated on the western periphery of the city’s urban center, a previously down-and-out industrial area currently experiencing a major transformation with the arrival of the new museum. Monument Creek and Pikes Peak Greenway Trail flank the park on its western edge with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum serving as a gateway of sorts into downtown Colorado Springs and beyond.
“The bridge is an exercise in fitness—both in terms of material and geometry,” explained Benjamin Gilmartin, DS+R partner-in-charge and lead designer of the bridge. “The hybrid steel structure system functions as an arch and a truss, elegantly preserving views from Downtown to the majestic Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak–America’s Mountain.”
Like the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, the bridge places an emphasis on accessibility to users of all ages and abilities and will feature a glass elevator and staircase—both to be completed this winter—alongside a range of “ADA- and bike-friendly accommodations” as well as a scenic overlook on the span’s western end. At the widest point of the bridge, an oculus provides a dramatic frame for taking in the surrounding landscape including the museum, park, and mountains in the distance.
Assisted by self-propelled modular transporters, the bridge’s installation, captured in the below time-lapse video, was a meticulously orchestrated eight-hour event that entailed the suspension of all train traffic while the structure was placed into its abutments.
The bridge itself was constructed in Houston by King Fabrication and then transported in pieces to Colorado Springs in June where it was assembled and fitted out in an area adjacent to the rail yard.
“The bridge, from idea to execution, represents how Colorado Springs is coming together to further create a city that matches its scenery. Born of public and private visioning and cooperation, it will link east and west, people and parks, downtown and surrounds,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers in a statement. “Investment in the redevelopment of southwest downtown is creating an urban destination that residents and visitors alike will enjoy well into the future.”