While most bridges serve pedestrians or automobiles, the Kansas City Power & Light Bridge provides an electricity conduit. Designed by Helix Architecture + Design, the bridge is a utilitarian truss structure is clad with a perforated blackened zinc skin.
The 165 foot-long utility structure bridges the gap over the interstate highway, connecting the Crossroads Art District with the Power & Light Entertainment District, two of Kansas City’s hubs for arts & entertainment.
Zahner was responsible to the owner, the architect, and the general contractor to design, fabricate, and install an enclosure based upon the drawings, documents, and patterns provided by the architects.
Perforation types and patterns were developed through iterative design with the architect. The architect’s images and aesthetics were maintained during the process by using ZIRA, a patented system developed by Zahner. The patented program was used to translate the architect’s drawings into a series of bumps and perforations, the physical pixels which compose the bridge’s surface imagery.
At dusk, a rolling LED light system fills the bridge with pulsing lights, lasting throughout the evening. This surface interplay with light serves as a metaphor for the bridge’s functional purpose, transporting electricity. The architects at Helix were inspired by the physics of three-phase electrical power whose sine waves are represented by the emitting light through perforations on the cladding. The form of the bridge itself becomes a third sine wave, giving the skin undulations and shadows.
In addition to perforation, the zinc cladding was bumped and dimpled to provide texture and rigidity. These indentations occur at varying depths, representing a field of electrons through which electricity moves.
The exterior system uses Inverted Seam technology, a patented panel system which smoothly connects the 375 unique panels with minimal visible horizontal and vertical joints. The scalloped metal shapes add further visual interest to the solution and the overall composition is further enhanced by its illumination at night.