Expressing Community Identity in Signature Bridges: The Latest from HDR’s Experts Talk

Michael Fitzpatrick
Michael Fitzpatrick

How can a community and an owner work together to discover the design for a signature bridge that communicates their identity? HDR’s bridge aesthetics design leader, Michael Fitzpatrick, AIAA, shares his unique approach in the latest edition of Experts Talk.

“Our approach connects with a community to shape a solution that resonates emotionally as well as functionally,” explains Fitzpatrick as he shares how he develops insight into each community to design structures whose form enhances the local environment. “For an owner, finding the consensus that defines a signature bridge solution within their schedule and budget can seem intimidating,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be.”

Using examples from his work, Fitzpatrick explains how he guides communities through an exploration of bridge aesthetics, researches the values of a community, and then incorporates community feedback and history into designs that evoke the character of an area.

“It’s a myth that a project costs more when you include aesthetics,” said Fitzpatrick. “When done properly and from the beginning of the planning phase, an aesthetically pleasing bridge can cost less. The best aesthetics are achieved as an integral and holistic element of the project, not as an additive nonfunctioning element, so the most effective time to consider aesthetics is when the project is conceived.”

Read the whole Form Finding for Signature Bridges interview.

Previous Experts Talk interviews on bridge design include:

About HDR

For more than a century, HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Our expertise spans more than 10,000 employees, in more than 200 locations around the world — and counting. Our engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services bring an impressive breadth of knowledge to every project. Our optimistic approach to finding innovative solutions defined our past and drives our future. For more information, please visit