New architect announced for bridge on the Sacramento River

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Rendering courtesy of The City of Sacramento
A concept rendering from T.Y. Lin suggests an arch design with solar panels that can power the bridge.

The Sacramento River’s first new span in generations took a significant leap forward today, and depending on the outcome of the design process, the region could get its first iconic crossing since the Tower Bridge opened in 1935.

This morning, city officials from Sacramento and West Sacramento gathered at the Sacramento water intake structure to announce the new architect for the planned replacement of the 107-year-old I Street Bridge. The new $172 million bridge will be constructed north of the existing span, connecting West Sacramento’s C Street to the railyards on the eastern side of the river.

T.Y. Lin International of San Francisco was selected as the architect.

The company, founded in 1954 by Chinese-American structural engineer Tung-Yen Lin, was chosen from a group of international firms that had competed for the project after the city, which had hired architect Donald MacDonald in 2014, changed course earlier this year after an essay in the June/July 2017 issue of Sactown Magazine called for an international design competition.

A concept rendering from T.Y. Lin that shows an observation deck in the one of the bridge’s two towers (Rendering courtesy of The City of Sacramento).

As a result, the two cities opened the design process to architects around the world. Four firms submitted proposals, and after presentations by three of the firms, city officials, with input from a local advisory committee, selected T.Y. Lin.

The firm submitted three designs, including one with a solar-powered arch design and one with observation decks inside each of the two towers.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui expressed her desire for an “iconic structure,” and said that the federal government is paying for 88% of the bridge’s total cost. She called T.Y. Lin’s conceptual renderings both “inspiring and practical.”

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon cited the bridge as an opportunity to “plant a flag about design and aspiration for the region.”

Another conceptual rendering from T.Y. Lin shows a bridge with four pillars and lush garden areas for pedestrians to experience (Rendering courtesy of The City of Sacramento).

Noel Shamble, the lead architect on this project for T.Y. Lin, said his firm will be looking for public input soon, and that he anticipates design cues being lifted from all aspects of the city, and not just from historical landmarks. “Looking ahead to the future, the new contemporary developments are going to sizably change the landscape of this area,” says Shamble. “And so we think the bridge should be just as forward-thinking and just as innovative.” Referencing the arch design concept, he suggested that the bridge could embody the state’s commitment to sustainable energy and said that solar panels might be able to provide all the necessary energy to operate the structure.

“I think we have an incredible opportunity to make more than just a bridge,” said Shamble. “I think we can do more than just a sculptural icon as well. This could really truly be a multipurpose signature bridge that does it all—a safe place to move, to play, to relax and to learn.”

Jesse Gothan, the city's project manager for the bridge, says that the public engagement process will be announced in November and that the new bridge is expected to be completed in March, 2023.