In 1928, the Sixth Street Bridge that would eventually become known as the Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh took home the Prize Bridge Award, making it the very first American bridge to do so.
The panel that hands out the prize was awed by the bridge’s innovation in steel—it was among the very first self-anchoring suspension bridges that featured solid steel eye-bars both in the main suspension cables and the vertical support for the bridge deck. Today the bridge is more than 90 years old, and it is one of the defining features of the Pittsburgh landscape.
History of the Prize Bridge Award
Since that year, more than 600 bridges of varying sizes from all over the United States have won a Prize Bridge Award. Many of the older bridges still stand today, including the Wabash Railroad Bridge in Wayne County, MI that won the prize in 1941 and continues to carry railroad traffic all these decades later. Many of these bridges, including the aforementioned Wabash Railroad Bridge, have long outlasted the companies that built them, and continue to be important (and regularly maintained) infrastructural elements for their cities, counties and states.
The initial purpose of the Prize Bridge Award was for the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) to reward designers for the beauty of their steel bridge designs. Today’s awards continue to make beauty a focal point, but also consider efficiency, sustainability and economical designs.
The early years of the award featured judges who included architects, engineers and museum curators, with the winners chosen primarily based on aesthetics. Today’s competition focuses more on innovation, though aesthetics does still play a role. But the focus on function over form primarily stems from the fact that today’s judges are almost entirely from the engineering community.
The very first competition featured only a single category and a single prize, with the Sixth Street Bridge receiving the award. Since that competition, there have been more than 300 first-place winners from a variety of categories and more than 600 bridges recognized in the awards overall.
The competition today occurs on a biennial basis, and winners are recognized during the North American Steel Construction Conference and World Steel Bridge Symposium. Bridge eligibility is based on the date on which the bridge first opens to traffic.
You can visit the AISC website to find a full listing of all the winners of the Prize Bridge Awards competition and some information about them, including the publications that highlighted the winners for those years.
The Prize Bridge Awards continue to be an important achievement for bridge designers and engineers nearly a century after they made their debut with the award for the Sixth Street Bridge (Roberto Clemente Bridge) in Pittsburgh. For more information about these awards and the metrics the judges use to determine who they will select as winners, the team at Benchmark Fabricated Steel encourages you to contact our steel construction company in Indiana with any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.
Categorised in: Steel Construction
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