Glide

A unique, undulating proposal for a pedestrian bridge as part of an international competition, Glide was planned for downtown Calgary, spanning the Bow River and connecting St. Patrick’s Island to both the north and the south.

Designed in collaboration with engineering firm ARUP for an international competition in 2009, Glide is inspired by the interpretation of the flow of water and wind around a fixed object. The bridge is composed of two symmetrical undulations that slope down from the main spine of the bridge, gently landing on St. Patrick’s Island. These undulations create a series of steps that resemble the traditional ‘reverse’ amphitheater, creating a series of comfortable public spaces where both the bridge and the island can be experienced in unison.

Glide’s structure is a combination of steel and concrete—a hybrid composite system to achieve lightness, strength, and slimness. From a planning standpoint, the bridge has a large width, but from an elevation standpoint is incredibly slender. The connections at the north and south banks of the Bow River are designed to be seamless to the existing walk and bike paths, and similar notions of water and wind flow were utilized for the geometric connections to the existing banks.

In designing Glide, both architect and engineer sought to achieve both a structural and aesthetic simplicity and to create a comfortable public space specific to Calgary and the needs of the site. Glide differs visually from the traditional pedestrian bridge by foregoing a rigid geometric, boxy structure in favor of a more natural design better suited for the banks of both the sides of the mainland as well as St. Patrick’s Island itself. Deferring to the natural landscape, Glide is an elegant solution to the common challenge of introducing a pedestrian bridge into a heavily public place.