As the design lead and structural engineer for the 16 Tech Innovation District Bridge, schlaich bergermann partner (sbp) has reinterpreted the principles of a classic suspension bridge to create an entirely new form. Spanning across Indianapolis’s Fall Creek, the multimodal bridge will connect 16 Tech with the neighboring research/medical corridor and downtown community, while also prioritizing pedestrian and cyclist access with protected pathways separated from vehicular traffic.
The bridge design borrows inspiration from Fall Creek’s beautiful setting, creating tree-like vertical supports that mimic the trunk and branches of a tree. The bridge’s defining attribute – its undulating steel ribbon – also mirrors the natural profile of Fall Creek itself. In plan, the bridge curves gently outwards on its eastern edge, offering a cantilevered gathering space suspended over the water.
One of the bridge’s most significant and inventive features is the way it reinterprets the principles of a classic suspension bridge structure to create an entirely new form. This feat of engineering is accomplished by replacing the large vertical masts found on a typical suspension bridge with a fan-type arrangement of multiple smaller masts. Likewise, elegant flat steel plates replace the traditional suspension cables as the main supports. The bridge’s tension element is allowed to follow the new mast arrangement, creating its signature wave-like form. The resulting structure acts like a suspension bridge but is an entirely new approach to the genre.