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Hardcover | Out of Print | ISBN: 9780262161749 | 199 pp. | 10.5 x 7.5 in | 146 illus. | June 1999
Paperback | $30.95 Trade | £22.95 | 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


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


“The beauty and innovation of the bridges of Santiago Calatrava are well demonstrated in monographs on Calatrava and his works. Now Spiro Pollalis reveals to us the entire process of realizing one of Calatrava’s most important works, the Alamillo Bridge in Seville.”
Stanford Anderson, Head, Department of Architecture, MIT
“The Alamillo Bridge is another exemplum: it is architecture not solely engineering that defines a bridge of outstanding design. Spiro Pollalis presents the conception, design, and construction of this bridge in depth, and in a refreshing, engaging manner.”
Dimitris A. Fatouros, Professor Emeritus, University of Thessaloniki, Greece
What is a Bridge? tells the fascinating story of how the Alamillo Bridge in Seville was designed and constructed. Rarely, if ever, can one read a more lucid and engaging presentation of design process and the sophisticated technical details of structural design and fabrication. Spiro Pollalis—a collaborator of Calatrava’s—has made a very real contribution to our understanding of the possibilities of bridges as architecture and vice versa.”
Peter G. Rowe, Raymond Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design of the Faculty of Design, Harvard University
“This book on Calatrava’s famous Alamillo Bridge in Seville is not a simple glorification of this outstanding work but a detailed description of its development from design to completion. The book is not only valuable for engineers and students, but also shows the technically interested layman what is needed to create such a work.”
Hans H. Hauri, Professor and former President of Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH)