At the confluence between Adobe and Barron Creeks, the Adobe Creek Pedestrian & Cyclist Bridge creates a new multifunctional infrastructure, a synthesis of architecture, engineering, landscape, and art. Winner of an international design competition, it is drawn from the trajectories of the cyclists moving along it and the sinuous waterways that trace the edges of San Francisco Bay, it creates a more consequential relationship between Palo Alto and the Bay.

A gateway over the freeway, the bridge, the first curved network cable arch of its kind, is slender, structurally efficient, and cost effective. This innovative approach extends to construction: erected at a temporary location while foundation work is underway, the arch can be rolled into place with self-propelled modular transports, reducing traffic disruption to a single nighttime closure. Recognizing the challenges of multiple users traveling the same route, the bridge creates dedicated zones for pedestrians and cyclists. The design also anticipates change in sea level, enabling future ecologies and habitats and communicating the importance of resiliency.

Encircled by the bridge is a new vernal pond and boardwalk, a new way to explore the Baylands. This landscape recognizes its strategic place in the broader watershed, leveraging its small footprint for larger-scale change through hydrologic and symbolic connection. Storm water is captured from the bridge and routed to a new basin, and grey water is recaptured in tanks concealed in the bridge abutments, irrigating vertical gardens of pollinator species flanking the bridge’s sides. Finally, a large-scale artwork is integrated into the bridge, utilizing technology to engage the natural phenomena of the site. Brushed stainless steel disks sway in the wind, deterring birds and ensuring their safety. Undulating with each gust and passing vehicle, they sparkle in the sun, an ineffable experience of motion and light.

“What brings the design alive … is the integration of small pleasures into the structural whole. You see this where the passageways on either side of the highway widen and split as they descend so that cyclists and pedestrians are on separate levels, giving each a momentary realm of their own. The arch … leans at a slight angle to the cradled deck, adding a dynamic visual element both en route and from below.”

J O H N   K I N G ,
S A N   F R A N C I S C O   C H R O N I C L E

“The winning design includes several amenities at the Baylands gateway, and shows a remarkable integration of form and expression, creating a safe landmark bridge for the use of cyclists and pedestrians, while also acknowledging that thousands of motorists will pass beneath this bridge every day.”

J U D I T H   W A S S E R M A N,
J U R Y   C H A I R W O M A N


Architecture & Urban Design


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