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Italian Architect Offers Morandi Replacement Help

Friday, August 31, 2018

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In light of Genoa’s Morandi Bridge disaster, well-known Italian architect Renzo Piano has offered to help design a replacement structure signifying rebirth and redemption for the affected area, according to the architect.

Piano, a native of Genoa, was most recently involved with the redesign of a 1.2-mile stretch of the city’s waterfront, and has also designed the Ushibuka bridge, which links three Japanese islands.

Bridge Collapse

On Aug. 14, lightning struck the Morandi Bridge, part of a thunderstorm with recorded 35-mile-per-hour winds. The cable-stayed concrete bridge, known as the Polcevera Viaduct and completed in 1968, was designed by Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi. According to website Retrofutur, the bridge is characterized, as are other Morandi structures, by thin prestressed concrete girders and relatively few stays.

At the time of the incident, authorities thought a structural weakness was responsible for the collapse. Since then, new reports have to come to light. In 2012, the leader of Genoa's business federation noted that the bridge could collapse within 10 years. In 2011, a report from Autostrade per l'Italia, the operator of the A10 highway that ran over the bridge, warned of intense decay.

Danilo Toninelli, Italy’s transport minister, announced after the collapse that there would be a comprehensive review of the country’s infrastructure, and that repairs would be made, though it would be a long, expensive endeavor. Along with transportation experts, Toninelli emphasized that much of the country’s infrastructure was built in the 1950s and ’60s, if not earlier, and much of it is beginning to show its age.

Currently, Italy does not have a third-party authority overseeing the condition of its infrastructure, but in 2001, a law mandated that all relevant entities compile a registry of the infrastructure they maintain. This registry still does not exist, though some progress has been made.

Planning for the Future

The regional government has informally accepted Piano’s offer of help with the planning of the new bridge; the architect has already submitted sketches depicting the road sitting on pillars that are reminiscent of a ship’s prow. The span would also be equipped with 43 tall posts—one for each victim of the disaster—that would illuminate the bridge at night. According to Piano, the bridge would be constructed by engineers, but the project itself is open to any architects, engineers and landscape specialists who wish to contribute.

The question of who will take charge of the project remains a difficult one: The government continues to blame Autostrade for failing to appropriately maintain the bridge. Italy’s transport minister has suggested that Autostrade fund construction of the new bridge, but let the government to build it. To date, the company has allocated $580 million toward the project as well as housing the displaced. Another proposal suggests allowing state-controlled Fincantieri shipyard to take over construction.

Piano noted that the bridge would be built "soon, but not in a rush," with the endeavor reflecting the "genuine nature and qualities of the Genoese."

“Renzo Piano voluntarily offered, as a competent Genovese, to give this new bridge project as gift to the city,” said regional governor of Liguria, Giovanni Toti. “We happily accepted the help, and he’s already made a few proposals.”


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Europe; Fatalities; Government; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Program/Project Management

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