Bridging Campus

As you pass under UC San Diego’s latest landmark, you may just see a bridge. But you should see it the way campus architect Joel King does—a reflection of all that is UC San Diego.

It’s a visual cue that you’re entering the university,” says King. “A graceful three-span arch, with a curve on the vertical plane that complements the curve of the trolley line right beside. It has the thinnest possible horizontal band of concrete—the ribbon of the bridge—and its four legs will be given dramatic uplighting as well. The idea was to create an elegant form and aesthetic, to contribute something to the I-5 corridor that was consistent with the many achievements of UC San Diego.”

Beyond its sophisticated structure, the bridge is a vital and long-awaited link for the university. “The housing and medical facilities on east campus are now finally connected to everything on the west campus,” says King. “The loop road was always in the long-range plan, but this was the missing link.”

Dedicated lanes for pedestrians and bikes will keep students off congested and circuitous roadways, providing not only a safer commute but a faster one, too. “The bridge will cut travel time down by a third—a two-minute bike ride or 10-minute walk,” adds King.

And it’s only fitting that this physical expression of UC San Diego should be designed by a Triton. Structural engineering alumnus Tony Sanchez, MS ’95, PhD ’98 leads bridge projects for the firm Moffatt & Nickel, and initially proposed the unique design. “It’s a concrete arch, so it’s structurally efficient, robust and durable. And rather than a standard freeway bridge, it has a design quality on par with the architecture on campus and the cutting-edge research UCSD is known for,” says Sanchez. “We even used a structural refinement that increased efficiency and reduced construction cost—something my old professors at UCSD would be proud of! Leading this project for my alma mater has been a great experience on many levels, and one of the highlights of my career.”