Peace Bridge (Calgary, Alberta)

Peace Bridge

Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, Peace Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that accommodates both cyclists and foot traffic across the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta. Most often referred to as the Finger Trap Bridge, because of its uncanny similarity to a finger trap, the Peace Bridge opened to traffic in March of 2012.

The City of Calgary built the bridge to connect Downtown Calgary with the community of Sunnyside. Peace Bridge is a unique departure from Calatrava’s previous designs, and when it was constructed was considered one of the top 10 architectural projects of the year. Calatrava’s bridges up to this point were generally asymmetric shapes anchored by high masts, and almost always in coloured stark white. The red and white of the Peace Bridge is a simultaneous tribute to the Flag of Canada and the Flag of Calgary. Designed to accommodate an increasing number of people commuting to and from work in Calgary, the bridge is used by 6,000 people a day.

In an effort to minimize the ecological footprint of the bridge it was built with no piers in the water. This unique design makes the bridge feel as if it is floating but actually required a great deal of reinforced concrete to form the abutments.

Finger Trap Bridge was delayed in its opening because of some problems with its construction. There were problems with the concrete section of the bridge that took almost two years to repair and some of the welds showed the signs of poor craftsmanship. The city was in fact forced to hire an independent inspection company after a routine weld inspection revealed that serious problems with the Spanish welds could have made the bridge unsafe. The welds in suspect were done in Spain before the sections of the bridge were shipped.

Peace Bridge Facts

  • The bridge is reportedly used by 6,000 people a day and has ranked among the top 10 architectural projects in 2012 and among the top 10 public spaces of 2012.
  • The bridge was manufactured in Spain and shipped to Calgary.
  • To commemorate Canada Day 150, the Red Ball Project was installed for a day (June 26, 2017) on Calgary’s Peace Bridge.
  • The bridge was supposed open in the fall of 2010, but due to a series of delays didn’t open to the public till 24 March, 2012.
  • Construction costs for the bridge were $17.995 million.
  •  Peace Bridge designer Santiago Calatrava was awarded a doctorate in the department of architecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1981 with the thesis titled “The Pliability of three-dimensional structures”.

Peace Bridge Dimensions

  • Span length: Tube Girder 126 meters (413 ft)
  • Total length: Out to Out 130.6 meters (428 ft)
  • Total width: 8 meters (26 ft)
  • Inside width: 6.2 meters (20 ft)
  • Height: 5.85 meters (19.2 ft)