1) What is your professional background?
In 1994, after completing my PhD at the University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona, I founded Pedelta to pursue my passion for structural engineering focused on bridge design. We are now about 140 professionals dedicated to bridge and structural design, working from five different countries, including Canada and the United States. Pedelta challenges the bridge industry by combining the most advanced technology in design and construction, innovation and context awareness. This holistic design approach is what we call “The Complex Simplicity.”
2) How many bridges have you designed?
The Pedelta team has designed over 2,000 bridges around the world, of which I designed approximately 400. Among these bridges, I had the opportunity to design some of the world’s first bridges made of duplex stainless steel and fibre reinforced polymers that provide very light, but durable and efficient structures. The use of advanced materials in bridges requires research and allows me to keep learning and grow as an engineer.
3) Why have you chosen a path in civil engineering and why bridges?
I have always been attracted by construction, technology and art, and to me, bridge design is the place where technology and art meet. In Spain there is a long tradition of bridge engineering that combines a rational utilitarian approach with innovation, while remaining sensitive to the importance of aesthetics in achieving quality. This tradition inevitably influences one’s work. The possibility of combining creativity and intellectual rigour to create efficient and sustainable bridges is captivating. The pure technical approach should be combined with an awareness of aesthetics, the context and time, so as to achieve design excellence.
4) How does the design of Garrison Crossing differ from other projects of a similar size/scale?
This project is very important to me. It gave me the opportunity to contribute to the community where I choose to live. The challenge was to provide a key link between South Stanley Park to the north and Fort York to the south, crossing the rail corridors while making a difference in how pedestrians and cyclists experience and interact with their physical environment at the birthplace of the city.
Our goal in designing a landmark structure adjacent to historic Fort York was to provide an inspiring, safe and memorable experience for pedestrians and cyclists with two high-quality and unique contemporary arch expressions, without dominating this special heritage setting. We proposed duplex stainless steel for the entire structure – an unprecedented technical accomplishment in North America that delivers significant sustainability and economic benefits to the people of Toronto. The structure has an extended life cycle, is more corrosion-resistant and requires less maintenance, reducing its overall cost.
This innovation couldn’t take shape without the continual support of the City of Toronto, Build Toronto and the shared passion for achieving excellence between the design team and Dufferin Construction.
5) What are the key design principles followed here with Garrison Crossing?
One of the main technical challenges was to design and build a bridge over the existing railway corridors owned by Metrolinx, so considerations were given to protection, safety and the security of both the railway operations and the pedestrians and cyclists using the bridge. Durability was an especially important issue to consider for this project over the railway and exposed to the use of de-icing salts. Our team considered the life-cycle cost, which includes all anticipated maintenance costs. All these technical aspects were combined with a design that aimed to add a unique sense of place and a distinctive visual element to the city without dominating the skyline of the neighborhood and the historic setting.