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Power & Light Utility Bridge
Helix Architecture + Design
A view of the bridge looking north with the Sprint Center in the background.
Looking northwest to downtown Kansas City.
Plan, elevation, and section of the Power & Light Utility Bridge.
The interior of the bridge houses banks of electrical conduit and the interior of the zinc skin is painted white.
An exterior view of the bridge’s perforated zinc skin.
A detail view of the bridge’s zinc skin with a matte-black finish. A perforated pattern of holes, in different diameters, are set into a raised, relief texture.
A view of the bridge during the day.
The undulating zinc skin creates a subtle pattern of shadows during the day.
At night, the bridge takes on a new personality, lit from within by 60W RGB LED wallwash fixtures.
The bridge’s perforated skin illuminates at night and reveals the form of a sine wave.
A view of the bridge at night with downtown Kansas City beyond.
Client: Kansas City Power & Light, Kansas City, Mo.
Architect: Helix Architecture + Design, Kansas City, Mo.
Civil and Structural Engineer: Shafer, Kline & Warren, Lenexa, Kan.
Electrical Engineer: Lankford & Associates, Kansas City, Mo.
Bridge Structural Truss Design: Contech Construction Products, Westchester, Ohio
Cladding Fabricator: Zahner Co., Kansas City, Mo.
Photographer: Helix Architecture + Design, Kansas City, Mo.
Project Size: 1,590 square feet
Project Cost: $1 million
Lighting Installation Cost: $115,000
Watts per Square Foot: 2.1
Manufacturers: ETC, Illumivision
Located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., over a stretch of Highway 470, which divides the city's Crossroads Arts District and the Power & Light Entertainment District, the Power & Light Utility Bridge is a new take on how to integrate elements of infrastructure into a city's fabric. A bridge to transport electricity, not people, the 163-foot-long truss structure carries banks of large conduit within its zinc-clad walls.
Mindful of not creating a distraction to drivers, Helix Architecture + Design selected a matte-black finish for the exterior face of the cladding, which has a perforated pattern of holes in different diameters set into a raised, relief texture. By day it creates a subtle play of shadows, as the panels slightly bow outward. At night, the structure takes on a completely different personality; the bridge comes to life. Internally illuminated by 52 60W RGB LED wallwash luminaires (grouped in two rows of 26), the pattern of dot openings is in the form of three sine waves—inspired by the phases of electrical current—while the background relief texture calls to mind a field of electrons.
A white film on the interior face of the zinc panels helps to reflect light. The fixtures are operated by a control system, and a continuous pulse of blue saturated light flows across the bridge, south to north, indicating the direction of the power being provided by Kansas City Power & Light. “There's been a tremendous amount of development in the Crossroads Arts and Power & Light Entertainment Districts the past several years,” explains Michael Heule, founding principal of Helix Architecture + Design. “This structure had to be more than just a utility bridge, it had to give something back to the community.” And it does. Celebrating the energy it transmits, the functional nature of light is transformed into art.
Jury Comments: An interesting concept. • There is a simplicity of execution in the architecture and the lighting that results in a great effect. • The design accomplishes a lot with a small budget.
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