As Portland’s first new bridge across the Willamette River in 42 years, Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People is the first transit, bike and pedestrian-only bridge in the US, marking a new era in transportation. The transit agency challenged the Mayer/Reed design team to create a commemoration honoring its place in Portland’s history. The design team was asked to propose the commemoration location, content and form.
The bridge identity, heroically scaled and prominently placed on the first tower crossing from either side creates a gateway for transit riders, bicyclists and pedestrians. Light and pattern shift across the faceted stainless steel letters depending on the weather and time of day. The faceted topographic plane is inspired by the geometry of the bridge that is engineered to deflect wind. It is said that the bridge has no right angles—everything spills away along the x and y axes.
Interpretive panels are integrated along the leaning rails located at four viewpoints adjacent to the bridge towers where pedestrians and bicyclists can linger, free from the din of autos. The milled solid ingots of stainless steel are faceted to reflect the bridge’s geometry and the landscape topography beyond. Each panel explores a separate theme proposed by the designers. In the midst of Tilikum Crossing’s grandeur and the views of the city, the Willamette River and Mt. Hood, the faceted panels are an intimate tactile experience as visitors run their hand along the peaks and valleys.
Each story panel is comprised of three segments milled from solid stainless steel with laser-printed text and artwork. All eight panels are derived from one unique shape that is flipped horizontally at every other location—providing manufacturing efficiency while maintaining variation in form.
Kathy Fry (Lead Designer), Michael Reed (Design Principal), Josh Carlson (3D Designer), Cooper Williams (Typography)
Donald MacDonald (bridge architect), T.Y. Lin International (bridge engineer of record)