Creative Connections: Bridges as Art

by David P. Billington, (M.ASCE), Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Princeton University,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1990, Vol. 60, Issue 3, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


Princeton University professor of civil engineering David P. Billington, at the invitation of civil engineering professors at Tokyo University, tours Japan and critiques several of the country's new bridges. He also responds to artistic criticism from one of Japan's foremost sculptors about the country's recently completed Seto Great Bridge, actually a series of bridges that form part of the Honshu-Shikiku Bridge project in which Japan is connecting two of its four main islands by 2000. He sets forth a theory of design (citing three basic principles: efficiency, economy and elegance), not to set rules for the designer, but rather to offer a framework of criticism for the critic and the general public. This theory is used to critique the Hokko, Ajigawa and Kuma bridges, and yields suggestions for improvements in bridge design in Japan and the U.S. including: emphasizing design in engineering education, encouraging the individuality of designers, and stressing bridge-design criticism.

Subject Headings: Bridge engineering | Bridge design | Engineering education | Bridges | Faculty | Colleges and universities | Project management

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