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SkyDance Bridge Design

The scissor-tailed flycatcher, Oklahoma’s state bird, will have a permanent perch over Interstate 40 in a few years.

The representation of the bird will hang over the SkyDance Bridge, the 30-foot wide, 185-foot-tall pedestrian bridge that will connect Oklahoma City’s central business district to the Oklahoma River, replacing Harvey Avenue over the new I-40.

Hans Butzer, architecture professor and codesigner of the Oklahoma City Memorial, won the city-sponsored competition to design the bridge.

Civil engineering professor Chris Ramseyer is also part of the Butzer Design Partnership team.

“The scissor-tailed flycatcher seems to embody the most beautiful ideas that relate to engineering, the Oklahoma wind and our love for the Oklahoma landscape and wildlife,” Butzer said.

Butzer said the idea to incorporate the scissor-tailed flycatcher into the design stemmed from a letter by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett that was included in the packet of information about the competition. The letter encouraged contestants to use the bridge to convey the distinct qualities of Oklahoma’s people and landscape.

“We are very excited about the bridge. I think it will capture a lot of attention because it is a huge work of art, not just a bridge. It is very special for the city,” said Robbie Kienzel, head of urban redevelopment for city planning,.

Butzer said the idea for the city bridge project began at OU in 2005 when architecture students were working with the city to determine the best location for a pedestrian connection between Oklahoma City’s central business district and the Oklahoma River.

“This project started with the students with an idea, and that idea got adopted by the city,” Butzer said.

Butzer said the team’s architects and engineers worked together in the design and construction process, an approach that is not typical for the U.S., but is popular in Europe. The team was approaching the designing process from a new perspective.

Ramseyer said the team began meeting in the summer and would get into “heated debates” about which design would work.

“It was my intention to put a team together of multiple engineers in the same room as several design talents to encourage them to disagree,” Butzer said.

The competition began with 15 other competitors and was later narrowed down to four by a city panel. The final four competitors were given a stipend of $20,000 to complete a model and were rated on five criteria.

Kienzle said the panel judged the finalists’ models on the level of creativity and ingenuity, use of materials and compatibility to surrounding neighborhood and historical buildings.

Kienzle said the panel also considered whether or not the design could be built within its $5 million budget.

Butzer’s design was the only one of the top four that was able to be constructed within the $5 million budget and was given the highest score, Kienzle said.

Construction for the SkyDance Bridge will begin in March 2011 and is scheduled to be completed by November 2011.

Construction of the SkyDance Bridge in Oklahoma City broke ground in late September.  W&W steel company started construction of the tail assembly in mid October.

The contractors met the requirements of substantal completion by December 20th, 2011 and earned $700,000 in bonuses. The ribbon cutting was on Monday, April 23rd at 2:00 pm.

The entire SXL team, plus Mayor Cornett and ODOT/OTA Director and Secretary of Transportation, Gary Ridley cut the ribbon.

More photos can be found at my Smugmug site.

The password is: sooner

The SXL Design Team
The SXL Design Team Right to left the team members are: Hans Butzer, AIA, AKNW, LEED AP, Assoc. Professor OU Chris Ramseyer, Ph.D., P.E., Asst. Professor OU Jeremy Gardner, AIA David Wanzer Stan Carroll, AIA Ken Fitzsimmons, AIA Laurent Massenat, P.E.
SkyDance - The New Vision
SkyDance as redesigned in early 2011
OU - CEES Bridge Engineering class visits W&W steel on October 26th, 2011
Associate Professors Hans E. Butzer and Chris Ramseyer look at a scale model of Skydance Bridge Monday morning at City Hall in Oklahoma City. Buzter and Ramseyer are working with Buzter Design Partnership to design and construct Skydance bridge- a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher inspired pedestrian bridge that will be located over I-40. It is expected to be completed winter of 2010. Emily Ganus/The Daily
Photo of SkyDance Bridge taken on April 28th by Hans Butzer