The 2,940-m (9,650-ft) long Taizhou Bridge has won the Supreme Award for Structural Engineering Excellence at this year's Structural Awards. The event gives the nod to a variety of structures across numerous categories, but it was the three-tower, long-span suspension bridge, the first of its kind, which received the overall "Supreme" gong.

When it opens on Nov. 25, Taizhou Bridge will carry six lanes of traffic (plus two maintenance lanes) nearly 3-km across the Yangtze River. Though the total length of 2,940 m is an awfully long way, the bridge has two main spans using three towers rather than the norm of one main span using two support towers.

The two spans are each 1,080 m (3,540 ft) long, which individually is less than the main span of the Golden Gate Bridge at 1,280 m (4,200 ft), and much less than the 1,990-m (6,529 ft) span of the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge, the longest main span of any suspension bridge on Earth. Two end spans of 390 m (1,280 ft) connect Taizhou Bridge with the banks of the river.

But in using two spans the Taizhou Bridge is a major breakthrough in structural engineering. The design requires the perfect balance of flexibility and rigidity in its 192-m (630-ft) steel central tower in order to withstand changing and imbalanced loads to either side. The complementary side towers are 178 m (584 ft) tall, and are made of concrete. The two main cables supporting the bridge are 3,110 m (10,200 ft) long and 72 cm (28 in) in diameter.

"This enormous project was an extraordinary achievement, which pushed the frontiers of suspension bridge technology to new heights," the judges said. "Bridge engineering has just moved forward by a very significant margin."

As well as the main award, the bridge, which was designed by the Jiangsu Provincial Communications Planning and Design Institute and Aecom Asia, also picked up the award for Highway or Railway Bridge Structures.

Other winners

Several of the other category winners will be familiar to regular readers of Gizmag. Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, with structural design by Atelier One and Meinhardt Infrastructure, won the Arts or Entertainment structures award. The award for Commercial and Retail Structures went to the the headquarters of China Central Television in Beijing, with structural design by Arup and the East China Architectural & Design Research Institute.

The Award for Sustainability went to the Halley VI Antarctic Research Station, with structural design by Aecom. The Emirates Air Line, which Gizmag took for a spin shortly after its opening, picked up the award for Infrastructure or Transportation Structures. The structural design was done by Expedition Engineering, Buro Happold and URS.

Price & Myers picked up two awards: the Community or Residential Structures gong for the structural design of Bishop Edward King Chapel in Oxfordshire, UK, and the Pedestrian Bridges award for Pembroke College Footbridge in Oxford. It was also a good night for Buro Happold, which won the Education and Healthcare Structures award for structural design of the University of Exeter Forum, along with the Structural Heritage Award for the structural design carried out for the conservation (or perhaps restoration) of the Cutty Sark in London.

The Award for Small Practices went to Malishev Wilson Engineers for the structural design of the feature staircases at the New Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The Award for Small Projects, meanwhile, went to the KREOD Pavillion in London, with structural design by Ramboll. Arup picked up the Sports and Leisure Structures award for the First Direct Arena in Leeds, UK.

The winners were announced on Nov. 15, 2013.

Source: The Institution of Structural Engineers