Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Peace Bridge

After our trip to Europe last summer I saw a new bridge across the Grand Canal in Venice. I did some research and discovered the architect who designed it also did a similar foot bridge across the Bow River in Calgary.

The architects name is Santiago Calatrava from Spain.

And this is just one photo of the bridge he did in Venice. If you wish to compare the two bridges, go to the blog post I did last year on the bridges of Venice. After seeing this bridge I added the Peace Bridge in Calgary to my Bucket List.  It took us a year to finally fit it into our schedule.

About a year ago during the flood in Calgary you can see how high the water came on the Bow River.  Photo thanks to Courtney Lee.

They closed the bridge.  This photo also shows how effective the lighting is on the bridge. To see some awesome photos of the Calgary flood check this out!

Another great photo of the Peace Bridge at high water... scary times!  Isn't the lighting great!

A man saw me taking photos of the bridge and we visited for a minute.  He knew a lot about the bridge... even the name of the architect.  He was quick to tell me that it cost the City of Calgary 25 million... and that there was a lot of controversy about building  it.

To see more about the details of the controversy check out Peace Bridge on Wickipedia.

This bridge is designed with a bicycle lane in the middle... and pedestrian lanes on each side.

The curved handrail glass looks really cool.

But occasionally like anything glass, some idiot can break it.

Someone carried a rock here and threw it.  I saw the point of impact.  This glass was supplied by a company in Austria... so this does't get fixed by calling up Speedy Glass.

The one unanswered question I have on this bridge is, "How did they make the curved shaped structural members?"  I expect that these are hollow tubes, but they are all welded and fabricated without any obvious seams.  Can anyone tell me how they did it?  And imagine all the fun they must have had getting all the tempered glass the right shape and curve.

The white tubes on each side of centre above provide two continuous bars of light from above.

There is a row of up lights in the concrete pedestrian lane on each side.

At the bottom of the glass handrails there is also some foot level lighting.

You can see a park bench on the walking path along the river to the upper right... this is where Shirley and I had a picnic lunch on Friday before we headed up to CUC.

I look forward to coming back to this bridge again and again.  When ever we go down Memorial Drive I will be hoping to find an open parking spot where I can duck in so we can spend a few minutes crossing the bridge again... and I will be looking for a chance to walk across in the late evening, to see the effect of the bridge lighting.

"Any bridge that is really cool needs to be enjoyed more than once." -Sherwin Goerlitz

I kept doing research on the web and found a good article that said the metal tubular structure was built in Spain and shipped to Calgary in 16 sections.  The glass was supplied by an Austrian company. They built a temporary enclosure on the south side of the river so that they could control the quality of the welding and hired the best welders to complete the total assembly. This bridge was a work of art, and the architect specified that all joints would be invisible with a high quality painted finish. You may wish to check out this article for yourself.


  1. Pa -- not sure how far your researches took you, but I found a picture of the jigs they used to bend the steel tubes on an architect forum online. Lots of good technical detail there I think..

    BTW, remember when I said that I thought I saw your pictures before? I think when you were in Calgary we talked about this on Skype and I looked it up online while we were talking.. So I only had the preview.

  2. Thanks for sharing Shelby. I like the picture of the jigs used to bend the steel tubes. Still would like to see more photos of construction process and assembly... placing the bridge after it was built with cranes.