Located on the Sacramento River in Northern California, Turtle Bay Exploration Park is a 300-acre campus centered on the Turtle Bay Museum, which features interactive exhibits exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world. The Park also contains trails, wildlife exhibits, a butterfly house and a Forest Amphitheatre.
In 1997, with the support of The McConnell Foundation, the City of Redding commissioned Santiago Calatrava to design a pedestrian bridge over the Sacramento River, linking the Park's museum building to its 200-acre Arboretum. The bridge also serves as a new downtown entrance for Redding's Sacramento River trail system. Calatrava's design for the bridge — his first in the United States — seeks to respect the Park's mission and the inherent sensitivity of the site.
The Arboretum was developed on land reclaimed from a gravel quarry, and the river at this point is a salmon spawning pond. The design for the bridge must avoid damaging this habitat, while at the same time increasing visitors' appreciation for the environment. So as not to disturb the salmon, the 700-foot-long bridge spans the river without placing columns in the water. It also is translucent, so as not to cast a shadow on the spawning pond below.
Calatrava achieved these goals by designing the bridge as a cable-stayed structure, with an inclined, 217-foot-high pylon built on the north bank of the river. The deck is made of nonskid glass panels, set in a steel framework with granite details; and the structure is stabilized by a steel truss. This design yields a bridge that is both ecologically sensitive and exceptionally light, weighing only 1,600 tons. Because of the exact north-south orientation of the bridge, the pylon is in effect the upright element of a sundial. Developing this theme, Calatrava made the pylon hollow, so that visitors to the base — at river level — can look up through it.
Slots in the pylon align with the noon sun, allowing light to pass through and illuminate it. Someone standing beneath the pylon at this time can look upward and see a spectacular view, as well as the noontime sky. To encourage visitors to linger at this spot and enjoy the river, Calatrava has extended the base of the pylon with a sloping platform, formed like a small amphitheater, with walls clad in irregular ceramic tiles.
1995 - 2004
Sundial Bridge Drive
Redding, CA 96001