Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Structural Designer

Buro Happold

Client Name

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a series of eight interrelated structures that overlook two man-made ponds fed by a small stream. For three of these, the engineers have responded to the architect’s inspiration based on suspended bridges in Bhutan. One projects into a pond and the other two span across the stream that leads from the adjacent Crystal Spring.

The base of the bridge structures are concrete and form weirs, with two being used to control the flow. The roof to the bridges is made from copper clad timber arches with steel purlins and cross bracing. The arches are partially suspended; the dead load is taken by catenary cables to concrete abutments whilst the live load is carried by posts down to the concrete base.

Judge's comment:

"The structural engineers have creatively responded to the challenge of the architect’s vision. A simple palette of materials were employed to create a structure where an elegant appearance masks a complex behaviour. To successfully realise the project they developed critical details that allowed standard components to cope with the variable geometry."