BP Pedestrian Bridge

The BP Pedestrian Bridge, or simply BP Bridge, is a girder footbridge in the Loop community area of Chicago, United States. It was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry and structurally engineered by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Named for energy firm BP, which donated USD 5 million toward its construction, it is the first Gehry-designed bridge to have been completed.

About BP Pedestrian Bridge in brief

Summary BP Pedestrian BridgeThe BP Pedestrian Bridge, or simply BP Bridge, is a girder footbridge in the Loop community area of Chicago, United States. It spans Columbus Drive to connect Maggie Daley Park with Millennium Park, both parts of the larger Grant Park. Named for energy firm BP, which donated USD 5 million toward its construction, it is the first Gehry-designed bridge to have been completed. BP Bridge uses a concealed box girder design with a concrete base, and its deck is covered by hardwood floor boards. The total length is 935 feet, with a five percent slope on its inclined surfaces that makes it barrier free and accessible. The bridge is known for its aesthetics, and Gehry’s style is seen in its biomorphic allusions and extensive sculptural use of stainless steel plates to express abstraction. The pedestrian bridge serves as a noise barrier for traffic sounds from Columbus Drive. It is a connecting link between Millennium Park and destinations to the east, such as the nearby lakefront, other parts of Grant Park and a parking garage. It was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry and structurally engineered by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, it opened along with the rest of Millennium Park on July 16, 2004. It has won awards for its use of sheet metal, and is described as snakelike because of its curving form. In November 1999, when he unveiled his initial plans for the bridge and band shell, Gehry admitted the bridge’s design was underdeveloped because funding for it was not yet committed.

In January 2000, the city announced plans to expand the park to include Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, McDonald’s Cycle Center, and Cloud Gate Fountain. Later that month Gehry unveiled his next design, which depicted a winding bridge that was a mere 170 feet long and 20 feet wide. That design was not approved and Mayor Richard M. Daley’s disapproval of the bridge was not accepted. While the bridge went through several proposed designs when built, the neighboring Jay Pritzkers Pavilion changed little from relatively little from its original design. In April 1999, the. city announced that the Pitzerker family had donated USD 15 million to fund Gehry’s band shell and an additional nine donors committed a total of USD 10 million more to the park. The city also sought donors to cover the cost of Gehries’ work, which would eventually become Jay Pritschker Pavilion and the BP Bridge. At the time, the Chicago Tribune dubbed Gehry ‘the hottest architect in the universe’ in reference to the acclaim for his Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. For 2007, Millennium Park trailed only Navy Pier as a Chicago tourist attraction. The need to fund bridge to span Columbus Drive was evident, but some planning for the park was delayed in anticipation of the redesign of Soldier Field in the late 1990s. The eight-lane-lane Columbus-lane bridge was built in the early 2000s.