Renzo Piano unveils gorgeous replacement for Genoa’s collapsed bridge

The Italian architect says the design will last for 1,000 years.


“It will be a beautiful bridge. One that will last one thousand years.”


Those were the words of renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, speaking this week as he presented his design for a bridge that will replace Genoa’s Ponte Morandi, the four-lane viaduct that collapsed in August during an intense storm.

The structural failure of the bridge–which was built in 1967–killed 43 people and injured 16. According to the ongoing investigation, decades of corrosion and poor maintenance, combined with a flawed design and poor construction materials, led to its dramatic collapse.

[Image: Salini Impregilo]
Piano was born in Genoa, and pledged to contribute a design to the rebuilding process shortly after the tragedy (he’s donating the design work to the city). Piano, who is known for his innovative structural engineering as much as his elegant designs, proposed a 3,608-foot-long deck made of steel, guaranteeing “a safe and durable bridge.” The viaduct will be supported by 19 reinforced elliptical-section steel and concrete pillars, placed every 16 feet along its length.

According to the newspaper L’Repubblica, the new bridge will cost $230 million and will open to traffic by Christmas 2019.

Piano, whose best-known works include the Centre Pompidou in Paris and The Shard in London among many other iconic projects, added that the viaduct’s apparent simplicity conceals great complexity–it matches the magical nature of city. Most importantly, it’s built to last. Because, according to the architect, “bridges do not have to collapse.”

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Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.