The structural wing will highlight the themes of “environment, materials, and ingenuity.” While this wing will demonstrate the physical environment in which bridges are built, it will also illuminate the equally critical notions in building bridges: the aesthetic, economic, environmental, financial, and sociopolitical contexts. For the target audience of school-age children, this will be an important introduction to just how complex large projects can be, and how they are designed and developed.
The proof of concept exhibits will include the palette of bridge building materials—stone, wood, bamboo, iron, steel, fiber composites, and of course concrete. The Bridge Museum will examine the nuts and bolts of how these materials are formed to create bridges, as well as their load characteristics and design. Examples will include the Tarr Steps and the Iron Gorge Bridge in the UK, the Ottoman stone arch bridges in the Balkans, truss bridges dotting the east coast and suspension bridges crowning the west coast of the United States.
To conclude the structural wing, visitors will witness some of the ingenuity that has been pioneered over the years, with interactive exhibits showing how bridges over the centuries have become longer, lighter, and more durable. Exhibits will also celebrate some of the greats in bridge building, including John A. Roebling, T.Y. Lin, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Robert Maillart.