16 Tech reveals the design of a new multimodal bridge with an emphasis on pedestrian and cyclist access

INDIANAPOLIS – The 16 Tech Community Corporation has revealed the design of a signature bridge designed by a team led by schlaich bergermann partner (sbp) and Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU). The bridge will span Indianapolis’ Fall Creek at West 10th Street and Riley Hospital Drive to connect the 16 Tech Innovation District to Indianapolis’ research/medical corridor and the downtown community.

The international multi-disciplinary team of sbp, PAU, Moniteurs Communication Design, Martha Schwartz Partners (MSP), Shrewsberry & Associates, CTL Engineering, Circle Design Group and People for Urban Progress (PUP) were charged with designing a signature work of public infrastructure that will serve as an example of innovation and collaboration for Indianapolis. In response, the team developed a groundbreaking structure that reinterprets the principles of a classic suspension bridge to create an entirely new form – a first of its kind in the United States.

“Working alongside my colleague Vishaan Chakrabarti of PAU, we are proud to have led this exceptional team towards a bridge design that combines architectural creativity and structural efficiency in such an innovative way,” explained Michael Stein, Partner and Managing Director of sbp’s New York office. “We are convinced that this beautiful and novel structure will become a landmark for the 16 Tech Innovation District and the City of Indianapolis.”

As part of the design process, the team spent six months engaging local residents, with a special focus on the near West and near Northwest neighborhoods of Indianapolis.  The team learned what residents care about through online surveys, virtual meetings, a hotline in English and Spanish, site walks, neighborhood canvassing and a partnership with a local STEM-based school.

A local advisory committee of diverse Indianapolis residents and civic leaders helped shape the community engagement process, which informed the bridge design. In response to community feedback, the design team created plans that emphasize accessibility and include dedicated space for bikes, pedestrians and respite. The design also encourages connection to Fall Creek.

“PAU was thrilled to collaborate with 16 Tech, sbp, and our other team members to deliver a bridge design inspired by both the needs of the richly diverse surrounding community and the beauty of our site in the verdant heart of Indianapolis,” said PAU Founder and Creative Director Vishaan Chakrabarti.  “By echoing the surrounding trees with the structure of the bridge, and by providing places of pedestrian repose, this bridge will create both destination and connection during a time our society is in need of both.”

The bridge design prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists by creating protected pathways separated from vehicular traffic.

The bridge scheme also responds to the site’s unique natural conditions. One of the most striking features of Fall Creek is the seclusion created by the lines of trees on either side. The bridge design borrows inspiration from this beautiful setting, creating tree-like vertical supports that mimic the trunk and branches of a tree. The bridge’s defining attribute – its undulating steel ribbon – also mirrors the natural profile of Fall Creek itself, rising with tree canopies on either side of the waterway and lowering towards the center to create unobstructed views up and down the creek.

In plan, the bridge curves gently outwards on its eastern edge, offering a cantilevered gathering space suspended over the water. This area invites passersby to take a moment and linger, enjoy each other’s company, connect, and pause to appreciate the view.

The signature wave-like form is the result of one of the bridge’s most significant and inventive features, its reinterpretation of the principles of a classic suspension bridge to create an entirely new form. This feat of engineering is accomplished by replacing the large vertical masts found on a typical suspension bridge with a fan-type arrangement of multiple smaller masts. Flat steel plates replace the traditional suspension cables as the main supports. The bridge’s tension element is allowed to follow the new mast arrangement. The resulting structure acts like a suspension bridge but is a new approach to the genre. When built, this ingenious design will become the first of its kind in the United States.

“The design team combined engineering, design thinking, and thoughtful community engagement to create a truly iconic and inclusive centerpiece for Indianapolis,” said Emily Krueger, Chief Operating Officer of 16 Tech Community Corporation and the project lead. “The 16 Tech bridge showcases the innovation at the heart of 16 Tech and continues to enhance the connectivity of our city.”

The 342-foot-long bridge will link the 16 Tech Innovation District and the city’s wider trail and greenway network, including the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. The design team will continue to refine the bridge design in the coming months; the bridge is targeted for completion by the end of 2023/early 2024.

High-resolution images of the 16 Tech Bridge scheme are available here.

The 16 Tech bridge design and construction are supported through funding from the City of Indianapolis and a $38 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. announced in March 2018, which also helped fund the initial development the 16 Tech Innovation District.

“Lilly Endowment was inspired by the vision to connect the people and energy of the city’s research and medical innovation corridor with the emerging vibrancy of 16 Tech,” said Rob Smith, Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies. “We appreciate the creative, cooperative and inclusive progress used to design the signature bridge and we look forward to its opening in late 2023.”  

16 Tech Bridge Design Team

In 2020, a committee of local and national experts in design, public transportation, urban planning, and landscape architecture guided an international RFQ/P process to select the design team. The team led by sbp and PAU includes highly-experienced partners that bring together global and local expertise. More than half of the firms on the design team are minority business enterprises (MBE), women-owned businesses or women business enterprises (WBE).  The firms are:

●        schlaich bergermann partner (sbp), New York
●        Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU), New York (MBE)
●        Moniteurs Communication Design, Berlin (woman-owned business)
●        Martha Schwartz Partners, New York (WBE)
●        Shrewsberry & Associates, Indianapolis (MBE)
●        CTL Engineering, Indianapolis (MBE)
●        Circle Design Group, Indianapolis  
●        People for Urban Progress (PUP), Indianapolis (woman-led organization)

In addition to encouraging diversity within its design team, 16 Tech Community Corporation is committed to achieving the City of Indianapolis XBE and workforce utilization goals for the construction of the bridge. Parties interested in performing work in the construction of the bridge and associated roads may sign up for information at 16tech.com/develop/bidding-opportunities.