DNA Inspired Steel And Metal Mesh Footbridge Becomes Landmark Attraction In Seattle

October 14, 2015 | Projects

 Project Name:  Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge
 Location:   Seattle, Washington 
 Architect:  Johnson Architecture & Planning
 Engineer:  KPFF Consulting Engineers
 Collaboration:   Birdair, Empire Industries LTD
 GKD Metal Fabrics:  Lago and Tigris 

Amgen, one of the world’s largest biotech companies, was responsible for the 420-foot bridge that has become one of the most notable architectural attractions in Seattle, due mainly to its extraordinary design. The DNA-inspired structure is a monument to the abilities of structural engineering and its architectural design by Johnson Architecture & Planning

Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge, Seattle, Washington, Johnson Architecture, Lago Tigris, GKD Metal Fabrics

Unlike conventional bridge designs, the Helix Pedestrian bridge utilizes both horizontal and vertical deformed geometries, which according to the engineers at Empire Industries, “The deformation (camber) needed to be specifically engineered to ensure that gravity would pull the bridge into its correct architectural shape.”

Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge, Seattle, Washington, Johnson Architecture, Lago Tigris, GKD Metal Fabrics

This marvel of engineering was produced with custom-fabricated steel beams, concrete, stainless steel, support beams and two types of stainless steel metal mesh manufactured by GKD. Two fabric designs, GKD's Lago and Tigris, successfully and safely negotiated the twists, turns and shapes of the balustrades to help achieve this landmark design.

The Seattle Times states Amgen is proud of their $10 million footbridge stating, “One reason it spent big: public image. The medical-research industry's work is well-known among physicians who prescribe its drugs. But to consumers, it doesn't make products with household names.”

Amgen Helix Pedestrian Bridge, Seattle, Washington, Johnson Architecture, Lago Tigris, GKD Metal Fabrics

Interviewed by the Seattle Times, Ed Fritzky, former chief executive of Immunex, acquired by Amgen back in 2002, stated, "We felt this (bridge) would be an investment in the community, and it would stimulate curiosity about the industry and the company, which would be good for us. We thought people would look at it and ask, 'What is that? Who did that? Why is it shaped like that?’”

The bridge utilizes 180 tons of steel and spans eleven railroad tracks for which it has achieved city-wide recognition as a must see attraction.

Homepage image via Seattle.gov

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