Millennium Park BP Pedestrian Bridge, Chicago, Ill.

Architect: Frank O. Gehry Associates, Los Angeles, Calif.
Sheet Metal Contractor: Custom Metal Fabricators Inc. (CMF), Orange, Calif.

Chicago’s Millennium Park, is a $475 million project that spans 24.5 acres. Located between Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue, the site was formerly marked as an eyesore. It now serves as a cultural park, tourist magnet and landmark for the city.
One of the highlights of the park is the 925-foot-long winding Millennium Park BP Pedestrian Bridge, designed by Frank O. Gehry Associates. This $12.1 million pedestrian bridge is architect Frank Gehry’s first-ever bridge. A truly beautiful structure, the bridge is clad in gleaming stainless steel panels and has a gentle slope and hardwood deck. This snaking structure provides an acoustic barrier between the audience using the park and the traffic noise on Columbus drive.

Custom Metal Fabricators Inc. (CMF) was the sheet metal contractor selected for the project. The project was performed over a six-month period and took 5,900 field hours. CMF used 22-gage stainless steel #316 with an angel hair finish and a flat interlocking panel process. The fabrication of 10,400 stainless steel trapezoidal panels in 17 different shop fabricated configurations involved 1,000 shop hours.

The design of the bridge consisted of convex, concave and radius areas stretching a total of 1,728 lineal feet, which is the total length of both sides of the bridge. A specific horizontal line had to be maintained throughout the bridge, which demanded 4,400 field-fabricated custom panels. To complete the project 57,000 square feet of materials were used.
Due to extremely cold weather conditions, CMF had to build special warm enclosures to continue working. CMF installed the belly of the bridge over an open four-lane highway within the Chicago city limits. They also designed, fabricated and installed a custom #4 brushed stainless steel handrail on the bridge.

For their work on the Millennium Bridge project, CMF was presented the 2005 Tom Guilfoy Memorial Architectural Sheet Metal Award, by California SMACNA. “This project successfully combined a renowned architect’s vision and technically advanced requirements with good old-fashioned know-how to create a bridge like no other,” noted CMF Vice President Dave Duclett.