Calgary’s very own Peace Bridge is open, at last!
Some may say AT LAST scornfully, as it took 16 months longer than originally planned, and many would say at last endearingly because Calgary now has its own piece of Calatrava architecture… at last we have arrived, whether say or nay, we are no longer a city in waiting!
Over 1000 people came out to celebrate the official opening of the Peace Bridge at the party hosted the afternoon of Saturday, March 24th, on the south side of the pedestrian bridge.
Yes, the bridge has raised some controversy … Too expensive, design was single-sourced and awarded to a foreign firm … however the very fact that Calgarians had a heated debate about a controversial piece of architecture is something worth celebrating.
Poignantly put in an article we posted back in 2009, there is no way of knowing whether or not the bridge will be embraced by the majority of Calgary’s population until it is actually in place.
The word on the street on Saturday was positive! Valerie Fortney with the Calgary Herald quotes renowned local architect Jeremy Sturgess, “Today is a leap forward in the maturity of the city,” and Thomas from communications company Juice Creative saying “What a brilliant solution designer Santiago Calatrava came up with … This bridge is a symbol that our city is ready to make an investment in the public sphere that isn’t cookie cutter.”
Fortney also quoted photographer Robert Lemmermeyer making an emphatic point, “Look, when they first were unveiled, the Guggenheim in New York was controversial, the Eiffel Tower was controversial … Great designs often elicit passionate responses – and I’m passionately for the Peace Bridge.”
Even mayor Nenshi remarked at the event, “We should really celebrate the opening of what is — whether or not you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, no matter where you stand on the controversy — an iconic and important piece, an indelible piece, to Calgary’s landscape.”
The bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It is a helical structure made of red steel, 850 metric tonnes- of steel to be precise, with a glass roof. The width of the bridge is 6.3 meters, and it measures 130 meters long. The abutments and deck are made of reinforced concrete.
It spans the Bow River, connecting the neighbourhoods of Eau Claire and Hillhurst-Sunnyside.
Although criticized because other pedestrian bridges exist in the area, Peace Bridge is double the width on any other bridges nearby, allowing for more volume of segregated bicycle and pedestrian traffic. It’s also well lit for comfortable night-time use.
Equivocally, when considering the cost of the bridge one must not overlook the intrinsic value of world-class architecture. All the great cities of the world have great architecture!
Calatrava is classified among the elite designers of the world; he operates in Zürich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City. He is currently working on the future World Trade Center Transportation Hub, train station at the rebuilt World Trade Center in New York City.
Word on the street was that Calatrava has designed only four bridges in North America, and Calgary is home to one of them … what an honour!
For more information on public art and architecture visit www.heavyworld.com
Follow us at twitter.com/heavyworld