Fort Wayne Bridge as a living stave that connects communities of musicians and of people that love music, from all over the city!

2012 AIA Pittsburgh's "Young Architect Studio Competition" winner 

The Fort Wayne Bridge is a freight trains bridge and, in its current configuration, not suitable for pedestrians. The big idea behind “Symphony Bridge” is to convert the critical issues of the site into positive features.  “Symphony Bridge” is a special and unique place that can be interesting not only for people living near the bridge, but for any visitor approaching it. The bridge must be enjoyed by all Pittsburghers, and beyond. The ultimate goals is to connect people and places, providing a new destination for music lovers, families with kids, and anybody up for a stroll in a unique place.


The projects creates a pedestrian passage and two bike trails under the railway, on a new level of decks. The uniqueness of the project is that the bridge will produce music out of the vibrations caused by the trains, by nature (wind, rain) or by the people passing there. The main path will be designed as a stave, with seatings shaped as musical notes. Biking or walking along the bridge will turn into a brand new musical experience. People can just pass along it, to reach the opposite riverfront, or stop and play the available instruments, or even bring their own and gather in the seating areas. The bridge will become a place for music and performing arts.

Details of the design

- provide accessible connections to the street level (accessible ramps)

- create an accessible path safe for both pedestrians and bike riders, under the railroad

- preserve old structure and connect it to the new one, strategically reinforcing the weak joints of the existing bridge

- involve a multi-generational population, making sure people of any age can have something to do

- create a unique place with special features that can coexist with the existing historic landmark condition of the bridge

- integration of musical instruments (involve community in developing a program for creating/installing them)

- create a donors' program, for people (or musicians!) to donate and sponsor seatings (shaped like a musical note)

To access the second deck, long ramps will be required. They will be part of the landscape along the rivers, with an innovative design. The ramps will be both for pedestrians, bikes and wheelchairs. They will connect the two big parking lots at each end of the bridge. This will attract also people coming from very far, by car. Following the symphony metaphore, these ramps will be the “allegro” movements.

“scherzo” is the second movement of the traditional symphony and here represents the “surprise”. The bridge presents the two most interesting spaces, where it is possible to locate the services and the heart of the project. The space for the cafe could guest street food vendors, and then become another small project of architecture in the main one. The deck under the highest structure can be to play or even record music.

“Adagio” is the third part of the symphony and on the bridge indicates the longest part of the stave. The presence of instruments played by people, nature and vibrations should be more consistent, compared to the “scherzo”. Instruments will be put in a way to provide different sounds all along the bridge. The benches will be still available, together with the presence of the stave-shape rails.

The seatings along the stave will be the most important detail that will make the bridge a unique place. The design is simple and cn be very cheap if made with simple materials. The simulations use metal sheets with a non-skid texture. Seating notes will always be composed of two parts: seating and line. The line will be only a metal insertion on the path, allowing the people to walk through. Other musical signs can be flattened along the routes 

During the night the bridge should be safe but unique, different from all the other bridges in PGH. A possible way is to use LED tubes hanging on the main structure, as shown in the sketch. This tubes will be visible from very far.

© 2017 Bea Spolidoro