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Pedestrian Bridges: Structural Design by Masters of Architecture Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Structural Education Applications in Architectural Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1145.1 - 22.1145.11



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Paper Authors

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Sinead MacNamara Syracuse University

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Pedestrian Bridges - Structural Design by Masters of Architecture StudentsPedestrian Bridges all over the world offer an aesthetically creative and technicallyinnovative array of structures for student study. Such bridges (especially in cities) arehighly visible to the tourist and the citizen alike. Bridges reveal and exhibit theirstructural form much more clearly than most buildings do, and this makes them idealteaching tools. Furthermore, the AASHTO Guide Specifications for Design of PedestrianBridges represent a manageable introduction to formal engineering design for a semesterlong project. This paper describes a one credit hour semester long project undertaken byMArch students alongside a required course in Structural Engineering Design. Studentsundertook conceptual design of pedestrian bridges. After a class wide study of innovativeprecedents, they worked in small groups and were required to choose and analyze a site,and propose an initial structural scheme. A minimum clear span was required to pushmore ambitious spanning strategies. They then performed a Finite Element Analysis andsized all the primary structural members of the bridge. The results of the project wereexhibited to a jury of engineering and architecture professors, with students required todefend both their structural and aesthetic decisions in the design process. The results ofthe project were very successful. The jury found the design to be of a high standard bothtechnically and architecturally. Students reported that having autonomy over a wholedesign from start to finish both increases enthusiasm and helped students fully understandthe variables that influence the form and the scale of engineering solutions.

MacNamara, S. (2011, June), Pedestrian Bridges: Structural Design by Masters of Architecture Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18349

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