Santiago Calatrava, world-renowned architect, artist and engineer, is the recipient of the 2009 European Steel Design Award for his three bridges in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The award, which is given every two years by the European Convention for Constructional Steelwork (ECCS), will be presented during an international congress on innovations in the field of metal structure construction, scheduled to take place in Barcelona September 16 – 18, 2009.
Calatrava was commissioned by the city of Reggio Emilia in 2002 to design a new train station for the high-speed railway line between Milan and Rome. In addition, Calatrava was also charged with creating a master plan for the surrounding part of the city in order to improve vehicular access as well as to provide a gateway from the north. His plan called for integrating the station with three new bridges, designed to connect the Autostrada del Sole (A1) to the city by way of a tree-lined avenue, Viale Trattati di Roma.
The central bridge, which crosses over the high-speed rail line and the A1 motorway, is composed as a single symmetrical arch, placed longitudinally. The bridge has four lanes for automobile traffic and two lanes (one in either direction) for bicycles and pedestrians. Two twin bridges are situated over roundabouts and highway access roads immediately to the south and north of the central bridge. The arch of each of these bridges, in contrast to the central bridge, is set at right angles to the direction of the traffic flow. These very high arches can be seen for miles across the Padana, as the flat countryside is often called, creating the appearance of towering gates marking the entrance to the city. Twenty-six cable stays, strikingly arranged in the shape of a hyperbola, support the roadbed.
“The most elemental function of a bridge is to connect things and it was always my intention to better connect Reggio Emilia to the rest of the world, both physically and symbolically,” said Santiago Calatrava, architect of the Three Bridges for Reggio Emilia. “It is a great honor and a privilege to be recognized by the European Convention for Constructional Steel for my work on the three bridges.”
This is the sixth distinction that Calatrava has received from the ECCS. The architect was previously awarded European Steel Design Awards for Kronprinzenbrűcke in Berlin (1997), Pont de l’Europe, in Orléans (2001), the Law Faculty Library in Zurich (2003) and for both the Three Bridges over the Hoofdvaart in the Netherlands and the Olympic Stadium in Athens (2005).