Owner City of Long Beach
Lead Design Firm SPF:architects
General Contractor Powell Constructors
Civil/Structural Engineer Arup
Electrical Elecnor-Belco Electric

In late 2016, Long Beach, Calif., began to consider building a new pedestrian bridge to connect its convention and performing arts centers.The original idea was to have a traditional concrete, elevated sidewalk between the two structures, spanning about 600 ft.

But in discussions with convention center and tourist bureau staff, “we realized that there’s almost two million people that visit our facilities and go back and forth on an annual basis, and that’s only increasing,” says Eric Lopez, project manager for Long Beach Public Works.

Working under a modest $12-million budget, architect SPF:architects and engineer Arup came up with a bridge inspired by the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean. The structure has a concrete path with steel ribs embedded in it to create the waves.

“Originally we had more complicated curves, and more complicated geometry that came in pricier than what we wanted so we went back and found ways to use more pure geometry but yet still create the same effects,” says Zoltan Pali, principal at SPF:architects. Using all pure circles, contractor Powell Constructors could use bent steel purchased directly from detailers and limit the amount of on-site steel work needed.

The bridge was constructed with a top frame of 76 custom-welded bent-steel ribs, and a base of approximately 1,200 cu yd of poured-in-place concrete. The bridge canopy has 3,500 color-changing LED node lights, 100 downlights and 70 floodlights. Lights can be programmed and synced to music to create effects.

The oculus of the bridge canopy has a 20-ft-high bending steel plate that attaches to arcs of varying heights. The twisting steel ribbon was built nearly entirely by hand. SPF:architects worked closely with Carl Stahl Architektur and the project’s steel cable provider to develop two custom node clips that could both fasten the lighting system or tension the stainless steel canopy.

“Feedback has been super positive,” Lopez says.

ENR's Best of the Best Projects 2018