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Nate G.

Thanks for the super informative post, Brian.

Just from looking at those cost numbers and the way the new renderings have been released by Tri Met, it's hard not to feel like the fix is more or less in for the "refined cable-stayed" option.

Do you know, off the top of your head, of any other specific examples where the V-shaped cable-stayed design has been built elsewhere in the world? I'd love to see one from a different angle than the one offered up by Tri Met (which the cynic in me thinks may have been chosen specifically to minimize as much as possible the bridge's differences from Rosales' design).

Until more renderings come out, I think I'd have to say that I'd be thrilled with Rosales' hybrid, seriously disappointed with the "unrefined" cable-stayed, and cautiously optimistic about the "refined cable-stayed."

Thanks for all your reporting on this story.

Scott Mizée

I'm not sure if you saw this, but I just came across this interview with Donald McDonald posted on Tuesday: http://bit.ly/dHLZE

Q&A: Donald MacDonald, Architect
Donald MacDonald has designed more than a dozen bridges since establishing his architectural firm in 1966. Today, he has bridges scheduled for construction in Dubai and Portland, OR, and he's in the midst of building the world's largest self-anchored suspension bridge:


I don't mind the taller bridges...maybe it is the renderings, but they seem much more elegant than the hybrid or the refined cable stay. None of these bridges are that unique and the taller bridges have a much more elegant connection to the river in my opinion. The shorter bridges don't really seem to resolve themselves in the air very well.


For the sake of comparison here are the heights of three existing bridges:

Hawthorne Bridge: 165 ft
Fremont Bridge: 381 ft
Marquam Bridge: approx. 160 ft (top of upper deck) - not totally sure about this number

Has anyone looked at the comparative scales of these bridge...like built a model of all the bridges along the river to understand what implications the scale might have?

Don Dulyea

Seeing a model with the heights of the other bridges might be helpful...especially to see how much contrast would be had with the Marquam Bridge.

If the two were about the same height, would the view of downtown be obscured by that big concrete road in the middle of the air? If so, this would of course be an issue with any column height, but to see both from afar, it might be better for the new bridge to claim some prominence over the Marquam.

Although, it has to be said, the view from the upper deck driving north yesterday evening at dusk almost sent my car into the guardrail. You definitely have to appreciate a clear, unobstructed view.


Thanks for laying things out, Brian. Thou rocketh.

I too would like to see other real world examples of the V-shaped cable-stayed refined. BTW, there's nothing extraordinarily unique about the two bridges that would bookend the new bridge (i.e., Marquam, Ross Island). Perhaps a bit of contrasting daring-do would add visual spice to the river. Cities like Barcelona, Paris, and Amsterdam have been successfully contrasting the old with the new (i.e., avoiding trying to merely blend in) for quite awhile now- letting the fresh new designs signal a break with the past.

And lastly, if I were a regular user of the bridge, I'd like to have as little cabling around me as possible while crossing in order to create a more open "floating over the river" feeling, as well as provide a more unobstructed view. The hybrid seems to offer the most cabling.

Bob R.

It's my understanding from other renderings I've seen that the cabling would be _between_ the ped/bike lanes and the primary transit lanes, so you'd have an unobstructed view in at least one direction when walking/biking.


can we paint this any other color than white , subtle it is not.


the four pictured don't represent much of a range of aesthetic options...they're very similar...so much so that i'd be happy picking by cost at this point

Brian Libby


I wouldn't be so quick to judge nuances of design from little JPEG images. I wanted to post these images to give people a taste of the bridges, but trust me - they require a closer look.


I would like the towers to be less angular and instead curved like an elongated teardrop. Perhaps incorporating a structural “scissor tail” at the top of the towers extending above where curves intersect.


I like that idea, Steve...and it would be nice to have some more "organic" architecture in PDX...


Cable Stayed-refined (top picture)...don't like it. That 'V' thing just doesn't cut it.

Hybrid Refined (second picture)...that's pretty good. Something about the towers should be done to make them a little more graceful though. There are too many cables...but what could they do about that?

The two cable stayed bridges, 2 and 4 pier (bottom two pictures)...the 4 pier is ugly. The 2 pier is maybe o.k., but its towers still look like some kind of weird stargate. Is this really something that Portland should have to live with for decades to come?

If I understand things correctly, the height difference between the bridges pictured is just in the tower height. The decks are all roughly the same height. Except for being more of an aircraft hazard, that should be no big deal, especially considering the interest some people have in seeing tall structures such skyscrapers and smart-towers in the city.



bridges are appreciated from a distance or from within...either way, we're experiencing the structure as an object (from outside and usually from a distance beyond that of touching or a speed above walking)

so little jpegs are strangely appropriate to the scale

i can concede that they are, in fact, different from each other, but, for a project that can't afford a fine level of detail, it's the scale of the big idea that matters...in this one, the big ideas are basically the same

if the wave were done poorly (or "cheaply"...however you want to call it), it would still be the wave and offer a long distance image to the world around it

IMHO, these schemes offer the same view to all


I can't tell the difference - much ado about nothing. We either go for something that calatrava would do or what is pictured above. Everything else is arguing about peanuts.

The true test of whether you can tell the difference between the two is to imagine on the bridge poster in elevation and tell me that there will be a significant difference.

Double J

The so-called "refined cable stay" is pretty clunky. The V's are unresolved and would loom over the pedestrians and cyclists in a rather unrefined way.

Portland has to get more serious about design in its bridge construction projects, right now there is a lot of ad hoc futzing and it's almost like putting a red ball clown nose over the real nose... additive but incongruous.

Rosales had a decent ground up design for the Hybrid. I'm not blown away by it but I respect it.

Also, is height really the enemy here? If designed well the height is an asset and sends a strong symbolic statement about car-less transpo in Portland.


Rx'ed this in the mail the other day-

Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail Project Open House
Please join us for a progress report on the Portland-Milwaukee Light Rail Project, including an update regarding the planned Willamette River Bridge.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Willamette Room, first floor
2100 SW River Parkway, Portland


The V's are unresolved and would loom over the pedestrians and cyclists in a rather unrefined way.

...and could possibly create bird poo issues for those underneath?


From a structural standpoint it is hard to see that a cable stay bridge would have to have the piers splayed out from top to bottom.

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