Skip navigation
Paperback | $30.00 Trade | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780262661348 | 199 pp. | 10.5 x 7.5 in | 146 illus.| August 2002

What Is a Bridge?

The Making of Calatrava's Bridge in Seville


Author in the News:
On July 31, 2003, the architect Santiago Calatrava was chosen to design a new PATH railway terminal on the site of the World Trade Center in New York City. Calatrava is internationally noted for his accomplishments in transportation architecture; The New York Times's Herbert Muschamp writes that he has "taken this genre of design to the level of genius." Calatrava's reputation is largely the result of several distinctive bridge projects, all of which exhibit both his singular design style and his engineering acumen. The Alamillo Bridge in Seville, Spain, is one of his signature structures.

Cultural icon, daring engineering spectacle, and highly controversial structure, the Alamillo Bridge stands almost 150 meters tall, with an inclined pylon whose own weight balances that of the deck and traffic. Built for the 1992 Universal Exposition in Seville, Spain, the bridge immediately received great international attention that continues to this day.

Santiago Calatrava received a direct commission to design the bridge and seized the opportunity to create a design breakthrough—a stunning, harp-shaped bridge that defies both gravity and traditional bridge design. Along with the inclined pylon, cantilevered roadways, and elevated walkways, the striking absence of symmetry in the Alamillo Bridge prompts the observer to wonder anew, "What is a bridge?"

In this book, the first to document Calatrava's work in depth, Spiro Pollalis describes each step of the bridge's design and construction, explaining the architectural intentions that motivated Calatrava's decisions along the way. He presents the constructed bridge element by element, along with the relevant engineering calculations and technical issues. The book is both a fascinating story of the intricate process of creating architecture in contemporary society and an accessible technical reading of an unprecedented feat in bridge design and engineering.

About the Author

Spiro N. Pollalis is Professor of Design Technology and Management at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.


"...copiously illustrated with architectural sketches, photographs, and the relevant engineering calculations." , Bert, Civil Engineering

"Here is a case study to read and treasure.", W. J. Harvey, The Structural Engineer

"This is a fascinating and thorough account of one of the world's greatest engineering feats." —Science News