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‘Fire-Breathing’ Bridge Wins ASCE Honor

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

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A bridge designed to be an “aesthetic centerpiece” as well as a practical river crossing was one of six project finalists recognized for outstanding achievement by the association representing the civil engineering profession.

In the end, Da Nang, Vietnam’s “Dragon Bridge” stood out from the crowd and received the 2016 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the association announced Friday (March 18).

The Dragon Bridge in Da Nang, Vietnam, was recognized with the 2016 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award Thursday (March 17), ASCE announced.

The engineering and design team of Louis Berger and Ammann & Whitney, a Louis Berger company, was presented with the OCEA Award during the association’s Outstanding Project and Leaders Gala in Arlington, VA, the previous night.

Shaped in the form of a dragon, an important symbol to the Vietnamese people, the six-lane bridge not only serves to connect the city with the nearby eastern seafront and the local airport, but it serves as an eye-catching tourist attraction as well.

“It very much contributed functionally but also aesthetically to this part of the river and, really, the entire region,” Ammann & Whitney President and CEO Nick Ivanoff told ASCE News. “Literally it became an overnight tourist attraction and a real sense a pride for the city.”

ASCE’s annual OCEA Award honors projects that best illustrate superior civil engineering skills and represent a significant contribution to civil engineering progress and society. Honoring an overall project rather than an individual, the award celebrates the contributions of many engineers.

The Dragon-Arch Structure

While proud that industry peers had chosen to recognize the designs’ engineers, Thomas Lewis, president of Louis Berger’s U.S. operations, noted in his company’s announcement, “it was the vision of the Da Nang People’s Committee, the sponsor of the international bridge design competition, who made the Dragon Bridge possible.”

According to Louis Berger, the Da Nang People's Committee chose its design from an international design competition for the bridge. The duo’s proposal presented a 666-meter (2,185-foot) bridge incorporating a single-arch support system that mimics a dragon rising from the deck and undulating across the Han River.

The dragon-arch structure is made from five tubular steel sections integral to the piers, ASCE explained.

Dragon Bridge under construction
Ehrin Macksey / Noi Pictures

The engineering and construction partnership delivered a 666-meter (2,185-foot) bridge incorporating a single-arch support system that mimics a dragon rising from the deck and undulating across the Han River.

“It was important to the Da Nang People’s Committee that the Dragon Bridge play both a functional and aesthetic role,” Ivanoff said. “Maintaining the natural scenic views of the city and river was a priority and helped make the bridge a major tourist attraction for the city and region.”

The engineers achieved this goal through a low, “parkway-styled” structure that employs an at-grade approach at the western end, thus maintaining the natural scenic views of the city and river, the firm explained.

The span features six 3.75-meter (about 12.3-foot) wide vehicle lanes, and two 2.5-meter (about 8.2 foot) wide sidewalks.

Information on paints and protective coatings used on the project was not immediately available Monday (March 21).

Breathing Fire and Water

Since its opening in 2013, the bridge, owned by the Da Nang Department of Transportation, has become an important transportation link and draws hundreds of locals and visitors to it on weekends, ASCE said.

It’s not just the look of the bridge that captivates tourists. The city closes the bridge to traffic on weekend evenings to utilize one significant “tweak” the committee requested—that it “breathe fire and spit water,” according to Ivanoff.

As a result, every Friday and Saturday, the closed bridge is lit by 15,000 LED lights that “paint” the bridge in greens, blues and purples, while the head of the dragon spouts fire and water.

Fire-breathing Dragon Bridge, Da Nang
Ehrin Macksey / Noi Pictures

It’s not just the look of the bridge that captivates tourists—on weekend nights, the city closes the bridge to traffic and implement a "tweak" to the original design that enables the "dragon" to breathe fire and spit water.

“I was rather dubious about that,” Ivanoff told ASCE. “Imagine you’re driving across the river and all of the sudden the bridge is shooting out a fireball".

But, he added, “It’s really, really quite spectacular.”  

About the Companies

Louis Berger is a $1 billion global professional services corporation that helps infrastructure and development clients solve their most complex challenges. It works with national, state and local government agencies; multilateral institutions; and commercial industry clients worldwide. The firm has a long-standing presence in more than 50 nations, represented by the multidisciplinary expertise of 6,000 engineers, economists, scientists, managers and planners.

Ammann & Whitney Consulting Engineers PC is a structural engineering, architecture and construction services firm serving public and private sector clients worldwide. Founded in New York City in 1946, the group has received numerous awards for engineering and design excellence, and has been consistently recognized for technical innovation, integrity and achievement. The company has been associated with the design and upgrade of numerous national landmarks, including the Verrazano Narrows, George Washington, Triborough and Golden Gate Bridges; Statue of Liberty; U.S. Capitol Building; Lincoln Center; Washington, D.C. Metro; and Washington Dulles and JFK International Airports; among others.

ASCE represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries. Founded in 1852, it is the nation’s oldest engineering society. The Society advances civil engineering technical specialties through nine dynamic Institutes and leads with its many professional- and public-focused programs.


Tagged categories: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); Asia Pacific; Awards and honors; Bridges; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Steel; Transportation

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