Jerusalem Light Rail Project
Project Description
Fact Sheet
Architect's Statement
Santiago Calatrava Biography

Plans to revitalise transport in Jerusalem got off the ground with the creation of a joint body involving the Ministry of Transport and Jerusalem Municipality. A consortium lead by Citypass and including Alstom, Connex, Israel's Polar Investments, Harel Insurance and local civil engineering firm Ashtrom have been tasked with constructing the first line of the light rail project on a 28-year build-operate-transfer contract.

The first line is a 13.8km route between Pisgat Ze'ev in the north of Jerusalem and Herzl Avenue in the south west. Eight lines are due to be built by 2020. US$446m has been provided by the Hapoalim and Leumi banks, with the Israeli Government contributing US$290m.

As a whole, Jerusalem's transport project will see bus feeder lines, and traffic arrangements that give priority to both road and rail-based public transport, to encourage passenger use and growth.

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Project Description

In 1999,the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israel Ministries of Transportation and Finance began plans to construct a light rail mass transit system for Jerusalem, consisting of eight lines. The first line to be constructed will run 15 kilometers (9.3 miles)from Pisgat Zeev to Yad Vashem and include the new Central Bus Station and Eastern Gate entrance to Jerusalem. At the request of the City of Jerusalem, Santiago Calatrava has designed a new bridge in a key area near the Central Bus Station which will serve as the “Modern Entrance”to the city.

To accommodate this difficult site,Calatrava suggested a cable-stayed bridge with a single inclined pylon rising above the urban surroundings,creating a landmark for the city.The bridge deck itself spans over the busy traffic intersection of Shazar Street, curving in an elegant s-shape from Jaffa Road to Herzl Boulevard. This free spanning structure clears the way for a public plaza below and allows an easy pedestrian crossing of the main traffic junction.

The slender and streamlined triangular-shaped steel box of the pylon is inclined backwards to show visible tension as well as create a clear visual direction towards the city.The cables are arranged in a parabolic shape which
develops three-dimensionally in space thus amplifying the impressive visual impact of this unique bridge.

Overall the cables and form of this structure suggest a giant harp –the harp of King David as a symbol of the holy city.

The overall length of the bridge is 360m,160m of which is free spanning. Attached to the massive box girder which contains the two light rail train tracks is the rib structure of the pedestrian walkway with semi-transparent glass pavement illuminated at night.The s-shaped steel deck is suspended 6.45m above Shazar Street by 66 cables attached to a single 118m high pylon. On either side the bridge rests on concrete embankments covered with the traditional local lime stone.
This new bridge will not only smooth the flow of traffic;it will also frame a public plaza on the site below and will serve as a new gateway to the City of Jerusalem.

Fact Sheet

Architect and Engineer Santiago Calatrava
Client: MORIAH –The Jerusalem Development Co.

Location: The bridge is located near the Eastern Gate to the
old City of Jerusalem,near the Central Bus Station.


In 1999,the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Israel Ministries of Transportation and Finance began plans to construct a light rail mass transit
system for Jerusalem,consisting of eight lines. The first line to be constructed will run 15 kilometers (9.3 miles)from Pisgat Zeev to Yad Vashem and includes the Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station. At the request of the City of Jerusalem,Santiago Calatrava designed the bridge to carry the light rail across a densely developed urban area,resolving
traffic and pedestrian issues,and to create a new landmark for the entrance to the city.

Start of Construction 2005

Inauguration June 25,2008

Type of structure Cable-stayed bridge

Structure of arch Steel
Abutments Reinforced concrete,Mitzpe yellowish limestone
Walkway Basalt cobblestone paving,glass,stainless steel

Length of bridge 360 m (1,181 ft.)
Width of bridge 14.82 m (48.6 ft.)
Height of pylon 118 m (387 ft.)
Height of deck 3.71 m (12.2 ft.)(clearance to street)
Longest open span 160 m (525 ft.)(distance between abutments)
Distance between diaphragms 4 m (13 ft.)

Location of bridge Shazar Street
Concrete 5500 cubic meters (194,230 cubic feet)
Steel Tonnage
Pylon 1,241 tons
Deck 2,720 tons
Walkway 48 tons

Principal Design Features
To accommodate this difficult site,Calatrava
suggested a cable-stayed bridge with a single
inclined pylon rising above the urban surroundings.
The slender and streamlined triangular shaped
steel box of the pylon is inclined backwards to show visible tension as well as create a clear visual direction towards the city.The cables are arranged in a parabolic shape which develops three-dimensionally in space thus amplifying the impressive visual impact unique to this bridge.
Overall the strings and form of this structure
suggest a giant harp—the harp of King David as a symbol of the holy city—inspiring city residents to refer to it as the “Bridge of Strings.”
This free spanning structure clears the way for a public plaza below and permits easy pedestrian crossing of the main traffic junction.

Architect's Statement

The Jerusalem light rail train bridge project started with the idea that we have to do a very light and very transparent bridge,which should span a major new plaza at the entry to Jerusalem.These were the elements I received from the client,Ehud Olmert,then the Mayor of Jerusalem, who challenged me in this way. He said that Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world, so I had to make one of the most beautiful bridges.

Uri Shetrit,the city engineer,who is also an architect,was preoccupied with how to make this area more urban and how to make it more pleasant for pedestrians,since the traffic there is enormous. The bus station is not far away,and many of the cars arriving in Jerusalem have to pass through this intersection.We wanted to unify the area and give it character.So the bridge is a link for the tramway and for pedestrians,but it is also the excuse to create a major plaza,to give character and unity to this delicate place which is the entrance to Jerusalem.

My first drawings for the bridge were very abstract,and focused on reconciling the curved plan of the bridge with the elevation,and its articulation with the surroundings.This was of great importance to me. Also,because I wanted to make the bridge so transparent,and the mast so thin,the major impression of the bridge comes from the cables. In the end,the form of the bridge came to resemble a musical instrument,with the cables as the strings.The idea of the bridge as a harp struck me as beautiful in this case. I thought the city of David deserves a bridge that evoked a harp, which was the instrument he played.

The S-shape of the bridge is a result of the technical requirements of the light rail system. Its geometry is precisely defined by the need of the tramway to go from Yaffo Street through the plaza and into Theodore Herzl Avenue. The curve and then the countercurve were dictated not only by the course of the tramway but also by the speed of the trains and the degree of curve they can
pass through.

In a bridge,the formal composition and the structural solution come together.Most bridges today are very minimalist,because we have taken away the decorative elements that were used in bridges since ancient times. You have very few elements with which to work. The most defining element—the one that belongs most to the physical nature of a bridge—is the statical system, how the bridge behaves. Also I think the reference to the site is very
important;the way the bridge touches the ground is fundamental. Finally, there is the way people move around and use the bridge to traverse the city.

These are the basic issues I always look at. For this bridge in Jerusalem,the quality of life and the quality of the city—to be responsive to the place—is the most important thing.

Bridges are instruments of peace.They join places that were separated. They permit people to meet.They even are meeting points.They are done for the sake of progress and for the average citizen.They even have a religious
dimension. The word religious comes from Latin, meaning “creating a link.”

This particular understanding has a very deep meaning,especially in Jerusalem,which contains in its name the words shalom,salaam,peace.A
bridge makes a lot of sense in a city like Jerusalem.

Santiago Calatrava Biography


Architect,artist,and engineer Santiago Calatrava was born on July 28,1951,in Valencia,Spain.

Calatrava attended primary and secondary school in Valencia.From the ageb of eight,he also attended the Arts and Crafts School,where he began his formal instruction in drawing and painting. When he was thirteen,his family
took advantage of the recent opening of the borders and sent him to France as an exchange student.Upon completing high school in Valencia,he went to Paris with the intention of enrolling in the École des Beaux-Arts;but as he arrived in June 1968 during a period of student boycotts,he found his plan was unworkable. He returned to Valencia and enrolled in the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura,a relatively new institution,where he earned a degree in architecture and took a post-graduate course in urbanism.While at the school,he also undertook independent projects with a group of fellow students,bringing out two books on the vernacular architecture of Valencia and Ibiza.

Attracted by the mathematical rigor of certain great works of historic architecture,and feeling that his training in Valencia had given him no clear direction,Calatrava decided to pursue post-graduate studies in civil engineering and enrolled in 1975 at the ETH (Federal Institute of Technology)in Zurich.
He received his 1981.It was during this period that he met and married his wife,who was a law student in Zurich.

After completing his studies,he took on small engineering commissions,such as designing the roof for a library or the balcony of a private residence. He also began to enter competitions,believing this to be the most likely way to secure commissions. His first winning competition proposal,in 1983,was for the design and construction of Stadelhofen Railway Station in Zurich, the city in which he established his office.

In 1984,Calatrava designed and built the Bach de Roda Bridge in Barcelona. This was the beginning of the bridge projects that established his international reputation.Among the other notable bridges that followed were the Alamillo Bridge and Cartuja Viaduct,commissioned for the World’s Fair in Seville (1987-92);the Campo Volantín Footbridge in Bilbao (1990-97); and the Alameda Bridge and Metro Station in Valencia (1991-95).

Calatrava established his firm’s second office,in Paris,in 1989,when he was working on the Lyon Airport Station (1989-94).He opened his third office,in Valencia,in 1991 to facilitate work on a competition,a very large cultural complex and urban intervention there,the City of Arts and Sciences,to which Calatrava buildings are still being added. Other large-scale public projects from the late 1980s and 1990s include the BCE Place Galleria in Toronto (1987-92),the Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport Railway Station,Satolas,France (1989-94),and the Oriente railway station in Lisbon (1993-98,commissioned for Expo ’98).

Exhibitions of Calatrava’s work were first mounted in 1985,with a showing of nine sculptures in an art gallery in Zurich.A new stage in recognition was marked by two solo exhibitions:a retrospective at the Royal Institute of British Architects,London,in 1992,and the exhibition Structure and Expression at The Museum of Modern Art,New York,in 1993. The latter exhibition included an installation in the museum’s Sculpture Garden of Shadow Machine,a large-scale sculpture with undulating concrete “fingers.”Santiago Calatrava:
Artist,Architect,Engineer,an exhibition of architectural models, sculpture and
drawings was presented at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence,Italy (2000-2001).
Similar exhibitions were mounted in 2001 in Dallas,Texas (to inaugurate the new Meadows Museum)and in Athens,at the National Gallery,Alexandro Soutzos Museum,and in 2003 at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
In 2005 two solo exhibitions of his work as an artist were mounted in New York,one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled Santiago Calatrava: Sculpture into Architecture and the second at the Queen Sofía Spanish
Institute,Clay and Paint:Ceramics and Watercolors by Santiago Calatrava. In
2006 the exhibition Obra Reciente y Proceso de Creación de Santiago Calatrava was mounted in Oviedo,Spain,at the University. In 2007 Es Baluard Museo d’Art Modern i Contemporani de Palma in Majorca presented Santiago
Calatrava:Escultures,Dibuixos i Ceràmiques and Santiago Calatrava:dalle forme all’architettura was exhibited at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. Santiago
Calatrava Architecture et Olimpisme was on view at the Musée Olimpique Lausanne,Switzerland from October 2007 through January 2008.

Projects completed since 2000 include Sondica Airport,Bilbao,Spain (2000);
Pont de l’Europe,Orléans,France (2000);Bodegas Ysios winery in Laguardia, Spain (2001);Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires (2001);Calatrava’s first building in the United States—the expansion of the Milwaukee Art Museum,
Milwaukee,Wisconsin (2001);James Joyce Bridge,Dublin,Ireland (2003); Auditorio de Tenerife,Santa Cruz,Canary Islands (2003);Three Bridges over the Hoofdvaart,Hoofddoorp,Holland (2004);Sundial Bridge,Redding, California (2004);Athens Olympic Sports Complex (2004);Zurich University
Law Faculty (2004);and Turning Torso Tower,Malmö,Sweden (2005);Petah Tikva Bridge,Israel (2006);the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (2006)the most recent major building in Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences;and three bridges in Reggio Emilia,Italy (2002-2007),part of a complex that will include a new high-speed railway station for the city.

Among the projects now nearing completion are the Quarto Ponte sul Canal Grande,Venice,Italy;Liège Guillemins TGV Railway Station,Liège,Belgium;
the Palacio de Congresos,Oviedo,Spain;and a Light Rail Train Bridge in Jerusalem,Israel.

Calatrava opened an office in New York City in 2004 (having closed the Paris office in 2003)in order to be closer to a number of important recent commissions in the United States.These include the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York;three bridges over the Trinity River in Dallas, Texas;a new music center for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta,
Georgia;and the Chicago Spire,a residential tower which will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere when it is completed.Other projects in design and construction elsewhere in the world include Campus Buildings and Sports Center,Maastricht,The Netherlands;Serrería Bridge and Agora, Valencia;and the Città dello Sport,Rectorate and campus master plan for
Roma II University in Tor Vergata,Italy.
Honors and awards given to Santiago Calatrava include the August Perret Prize from the Union Internationale d’Architectes (UIA)in 1987;the 1988 IABSE Prize from the International Association of Bridge and Structural
Engineering;the Gold Medal of the Institute of Structural Engineers,London (1992);Creu de Sant Jordi from the Generalitat de Catalunya,Barcelona, Spain (1994);Medalla de Oro al Mérito de las Bellas Artes from the Ministry of Culture in Granada,Spain (1996);Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres from the Republic of France (1998);Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Artes in
1999;the 2000 Medalla de Oro of the Círculo de Bellas Artes,Valencia;the Sir Misha Black Medal,Royal College of Art,London (2002);the 2002 Leonardo da Vinci Medal from SEFI (Société pour la Formation des Ingénieurs);Grande Médaille d’Or from Académie d’Architecture,Paris;the Silver Beam Award
from the Swedish Institute of Steel Construction (2003);the Golden Plate
Award from the Academy of Achievement,Chicago,Illinois (2004);the 2004
Gold Medal from the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute,New York;Premio Nacional a las Artes y las Ciencias Aplicadas al Deporte 2004,from the Consejo Superior de Deportes of Spain;the 2005 AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects;the 2005 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts from the Council for the Arts at M.I.T.;Alta Distinción de la Generalitat Valenciana (2005);and both the 2005 Premio Nacional de Ingeniería Civil and 2005 Premio Nacional de Arquitectura from the Spanish Government.

Many individual Calatrava projects have been honored by professional societies,publications and governmental entities.The Milwaukee Art Museum expansion was named “Best of 2001”by Time Magazine;“2002 Best Large Structure”by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois;“2004 Outstanding Structure”by the International Association for Bridge and
Structural Engineering;and “2004 Outstanding Project Award” from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations,Chicago,Illinois.
Turning Torso Tower earned the “2003 Silver Beam Award”from the Swedish Institute of Steel Construction;the “2005 MIPIM Award”from the Marché International des Professionnel d’Immobilier;and the “fib 2006 Award for Outstanding Concrete Structures”from the International Federation for Structural Concrete.Liège Guillemins High Speed Railway Station was awarded the ESCN European Award for Excellence in Concrete in 2006,by the European Concrete Societies Network,and Calatrava projects have received a total of five ECCS European Steel Design Awards to date from the European Convention for Constructional Steel (for Kronprinzenbr ű cke,Berlin,in 1997; for Pont de ’Europe,Orléans,in 2001;the Law Faculty Library,Zurich,in 2003;and for both the Three Bridges over the Hoofdvaart in the Netherlands and the Olympic Stadium in Athens in 2005).

Santiago Calatrava was named a “Global Leader for Tomorrow”by the World Economic Forum in Davos,Switzerland (1993)and one of the “Time 100”most influential people by Time Magazine in 2005.He has received 16 honorary doctorates to date and is a Permanent Honorary Guest (Ständiger Ehrengast) of the University of Zurich.