Week 10: It’s a Bird…It’s a Bridge

This past week I was fortunate to attend the ASID SCALE Student Summit in Oklahoma City. The keynote speakers who attended the event were incredibly inspiring, and spoke about many subjects we are touching on in school. One particular keynote speaker, Hans Butzer, stood out for me as he presented some projects that demonstrated biomimicry.

His approach to design is that “everything should have an impact,” and that design can be a leveling field amongst different cultures and mindsets. What can be more universally meaningful than looking to nature?

Case Study: Skydance Bridge, Oklahoma City

Architects: BAU Butzer Architects and Urbanism

Butzer and his team won a design proposal to design a new pedestrian bridge to connect Oklahoma City. The bridge was meant to serve as a symbol of Oklahoma and to become a “postcard” moment for the city.

BAU Architects derived inspiration from Oklahoma’s state bird, the Scissor tailed Flycatcher. The name, Skydance, came from the unique V-shaped flight that the Flycatcher bird demonstrates in the Spring during mating season.

The bridge structure and supports were informed by the physical structure of the Flycatcher, which is adapted to the strong Oklahoma winds and local climate.

“The bird’s distinctive tail feathers demonstrate an evolved necessity to navigate swirling prairie winds. Its lightweight frame is held strong by hollowed bones”

-Butzer Gardner Architects

The design team took the bird concept down to the details of design, and even used Rhino to create 668 “feathers” for the skin of the bridge structure. Not only does this design speak to the local culture of Oklahoma, it is also a SMART design which looks to nature for guidance.

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