FXFOWLE Designs World’s Largest Spanning Arch Bridge for Dubai
By Josephine Minutillo
FXFOWLE can add a bridge to the list of structures it currently is developing in Dubai. The firm’s exuberant design for the Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Crossing was the winner of an international competition sponsored by the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority. When completed, likely in 2012, the one-mile-long, 673-foot-tall structure will be the longest and tallest spanning arch bridge in the world.
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Six car lanes will traverse the bridge in each direction, along with two light-rail tracks. The $800 million project also calls for pedestrian walkways that will be placed underneath the deck to shade walkers from the blazing sun. The bridge, named after the father of Dubai’s current ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, will be the sixth crossing at Dubai Creek, joining four other bridges and one tunnel.
Rather than crossing the water in a single span, FXFOWLE created two separate arches that converge on an artificial island. While the entire bridge is one mile long, its east span will be 1,246 feet in length, while the west span will stretch 2,000 feet, making it 200 feet longer than the current record holder for world’s longest spanning arch bridge: China’s Chaotianmen Bridge, completed this year. Its main arch spans 1,811 feet. FXFOWLE is working with the structural engineering firm Parson Transportation on the project.
Visually, the Dubai bridge will frame an opera house—a project recently awarded to Zaha Hadid—on a neighboring island while providing multi-modal access to it. “If we had created a single span, the height of the deck would have obstructed views of the future opera house,” explains Sudhir Jambhekar, FAIA, senior partner at FXFOWLE.
The bridge’s design was inspired by Middle Eastern sources. Its rhythmic lines mimic the graceful patterns of Arabic calligraphy, while the overall form evokes sand dunes. Closer to home, Jambhekar was influenced by one of his favorite bridges, the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Bayonne, New Jersey, with Staten Island, New York.
The New York-based FXFOWLE opened an affiliate office in Dubai in 2005. According to a spokesman, the firm is working on four master plans and 11 structures in the fast-growing emirate
Jenna M. McKnight contributed additional reporting to this story.