rainbow bridge by SPF:architects references long beach's breaking waves

rainbow bridge by SPF:architects references long beach's breaking waves

the rainbow bridge by SPF:architects connects the long beach convention center with the performing arts center, while providing the city with a new public meeting place and a distinct architectural marker. the 605-foot-long (184 meter) design draws from the area’s history as a dynamic seaside town, with a form conceived as an abstraction of a breaking wave with a deck.

 rainbow bridge by SPF:architects references long beach's breaking wavesall images by john linden



despite the limited budget, SPF:architects created a custom bridge that is more of a dynamic experience than a simple concrete traverse, based on a caltrans template with concrete supports and a box beam spanning between columns. working closely with arup on the construction and engineering, the LA-based architects formed the bridge through a top frame of 76 custom-welded bent-steel ribs, and a base of approximately 1,200 cubic yards of poured-in-place concrete.



the bridge’s wave-inspired steel framing is complemented by a dynamic lighting fixture system, custom-developed alongside carl stahl architektur. a total of 3,500 color-changing LED node lights, 100 downlights, and 70 floodlights has been integrated on the bridge canopy, which can be programmed and synced to complement everything from music to performances, or be left static as a bioluminescent lightscape.


‘the lights themselves are quite unique in that we worked with carl stahl, and the steel cable provider to develop two custom node clips that could either fasten the lighting system or tension the stainless steel canopy,’ note the architects. ‘although the pieces serve two different functions, they are aesthetically analogous and appear as one succinct system. the design also allows for ease of installation and replacement flexibility.’ 




project info:


architect: SPF:architects

engineer: arup

name: rainbow bridge

location: long beach, california

size: 11,500 sf

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