Golden Gate Bridge: History and Design of an Icon Hardcover – Apr 15 2008
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About the Author
Donald MacDonald is the first architect to work on the Golden Gate Bridge since its completion. He lives in San Francisco.
Ira Nadel has written numerous books, including biographies of Leonard Cohen and Ezra Pound. He lives in Vancouver, B.C.
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Although one would have expected the use of gold given its name, the bridge's arresting shade of "international orange" was the result of extensive debate. MacDonald uses the creative latitude of his illustrations to show what colors and patterns were seriously considered, including some truly ugly striped patterns meant to allow the military greater visibility during heavy fog conditions. Even the height of the towers was a source of controversy as original designs had them rise to nearly 1,000 feet, or the equal of the Eiffel Tower, versus the final 746 feet. The turbulence of the weather conditions was a key consideration, and as it turns out, the bridge's elastic suspension has been successful in responding to gale-force winds. Particularly interesting is the last chapter on the bridge's current state wherein efforts are focused on earthquake retro-fitting and suicide prevention barriers. MacDonald should know since his firm has been instrumental in the redesign of the toll plaza, the seismic retrofit and the various proposals for a suicide deterrence barrier. This is not the most comprehensive look at the Golden Gate Bridge, but I find MacDonald and Nadel's insights never less than interesting.
I'd previously helped another architect photo-document the GG Bridge, as a proposed model for the Bay Bridge bike/ped path. We noticed tiny details that help make this bridge so graceful. E.g., every post along its guardrails echoes the shape of the suspension towers.
Donald's Bay Bridge design was superb, and showed that he'd studied the GG Bridge far more carefully. This book shares the history and details he uncovered.
Donald has an unusual feel for what creates a comfortable, welcoming structure. The book's compact size, and hand illustrations, give it a correspondingly warm vibe. It's great to page through with kids, or with your favorite grownup travel companion, before or after you visit the bridge itself.
I really enjoyed the illustrations by the author which helped to describe construction techniques.
The book is a quick read but gives a great overview to anyone who is going to visit or who is just interested in iconic structures.
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