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New Aesthetic Bridge Guide

Brawn and Beauty

New bridges in Ontario may soon be earning more design awards thanks to a new report that helps engineers design bridges with aesthetics in mind. This report, entitled Aesthetic Guidelines for Bridges, was recently prepared for MTO by a knowledgeable team of architects and engineers. Its goals are two-fold, 1) to make MTO's engineers aware of the role aesthetics play bridge design, and 2) to act as a guide for structural engineers who want to design pleasant looking bridges.

The report could also encourage many engineers to rethink the way they design bridges. The Manager of MTO's Bridge office, Bala Tharmabala, notes that engineers try to make their bridges look good, but that successful results exist only on a "hit and miss basis." Now, with a set of guidelines, they will have an analytical basis for making aesthetically sensitive design decisions.

The guideline deals with its subject - aesthetics - in a methodical manner. It systematically describes the various parts that make up a bridge, and illustrates design variations that could make a given component more aesthetically pleasing. This format makes the report very approachable for most engineers.

Most of the report's information is directly applicable to all bridge design. That being said, the guidelines will be especially helpful to anyone designing common "workhorse" bridges (those with a main span of 80 meters or less), as these bridges form the main focus of the report.