Millennium Park, Chicago (No. 2)
The BP Pedestrian Bridge is a girder footbridge over Columbus Drive that connects Millennium Park with Maggie Daley Park (formerly, Daley Bicentennial Plaza), both parts of the larger Grant Park. The pedestrian bridge is the first bridge Gehry designed to be built, and was named for BP plc, which donated $5 million to the construction of the park. It opened on July 16, 2004, along with the rest of Millennium Park.Gehry had been courted by the city to design the bridge and the neighboring Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and eventually agreed to do so after the Pritzker family funded the Pavilion. The bridge is known for its aesthetics, and Gehry’s style is seen in its biomorphic allusions and extensive sculptural use of stainless steel plates to express abstraction. The bridge is referred to as snakelike in character due to its curving form. The bridge’s design, which meets highway standards to accommodate rushes of pedestrian traffic simultaneously exiting Pritzker Pavilion events, enables it to bear a heavy load.
The pedestrian bridge serves as a noise barrier for the pavilion, blocking traffic sounds from Columbus Drive. It is a connecting link between Millennium Park and destinations to the east, such as the nearby lakefront, other parts of Grant Park and a parking garage. The BP Bridge uses a concealed box girder design with a concrete base, and its deck is covered by hardwood floor boards. It is designed without handrails, using stainless steel parapetsinstead.The total length is 935 feet (285 m), with a five percent slope on its inclined surfaces that makes it barrier-free and accessible. It has won awards for its use of sheet metal. Although the bridge is closed in winter because ice cannot be safely removed from its wooden walkway, it has received favorable reviews for its design and aesthetics.