Designs Within Reach 2019

(page 2 of 6)

Rendering by T.Y. Lin International

I Street Bridge Replacement

Estimated Completion: 2023

“Bridges naturally carry a lot of symbolism since they’re very visible objects that stick out of the landscape,” says lead bridge architect Noel Shamble of the San Francisco-based engineering firm T.Y. Lin International. “If you think about it, a bridge is where the land ends and something else begins.” Idealistically speaking, the “something else” he’s referring to is “the future,” embodied in the group’s design of Sacramento’s replacement for the old I Street Bridge, which sits just down river.

T.Y. Lin prevailed in a global competition with a trio of forward-looking concepts—mere sparks to ignite conversation and ideas from the community about the new span, still very much on the drawing board—that have one charming bygone characteristic in common: They are all “lift bridges,” where the roadway lifts straight up, like in the case of the Tower Bridge, to allow passage for boats underneath.

But if bridges are metaphorically inclined to transport us into the future, T.Y. Lin’s “Solar Arch” concept seems triumphantly poised for the task. With a curved steel awning that dramatically rises 270 feet above the water, this breathtaking sight literally shines brighter than the rest. The arch isn’t simply a feat of engineering exquisitely oriented for a solar array that would generate enough power to lift the bridge. Its aesthetic daring could be just the iconic symbol needed for Sacramento’s new dawn—in fact, any design that finally emerges would be empowered in that way. Says Shamble, “This is precisely what you’d want from a beautiful landmark on the horizon.”