​​​​​​​​​​Thunderbird Vehicular Bridge​​

 

 

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ARTIST:   Beth Galston with BRW, Inc. Engineering
DATE:   1999​
LOCATION:  Thunderbird Rd and SR 51
TYPE:   Bridge​
MATERIALS:   Steel, Concrete
BUDGET:   $300,000
DISTRICT:   3
ZIP CODE:   85032​


Artist Beth Galston joined the design team after a basic overpass had been developed.  Her goal was to beautify the bridge and to mitigate its impact on the neighborhood.  The original structure was a square concrete culvert with 24-foot high walls facing nearby homes.  Galston rounded all the lines of the overpass to soften its look and create a graceful, flowing shape.  Rounded corner columns were exposed to “lift" the structure and create the feeling of a gateway.  Serpentine terraced walls were added, bringing a more human scale to the bridge's overall height.  The undulating terraced walls, which are topped by brightly-colored curvilinear metal railings, “flow" from inside of the elevated structure and disappear into the landscape alongside the highway.

  Wanting the bridge to feel like a natural rocky form, Galston chose a fractured granite surface pattern for the concrete.  A sculpted landscape of earth mounds and contours extend for several hundred feet on all four sides, surrounding the bridge and creating the appearance of natural hills, echoing Squaw Peak in the distance.  Ancient Native American mounds that may once have been on the site are also recalled.

The bridge's curved form is dramatized by a special lighting system.  Blue light washes the front of the corner columns, which are then back-lit in yellow, accentuating the gateway effect.  Back-lighting also silhouettes the serpentine railing.  Beneath the bridge recessed ceiling lights further soften the architectural lines of the structure.​