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Keystone Crossing

A new 366-ft. pedestrian crossing at Villanova University, near Philadelphia, took top Transportation: Best Non-Highway Bridge honors in the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute 2020 Design Awards program.

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A practical solution linking the main campus and residence halls, the bridge embraces Keystone State textures. It comprises 124 beam, spandrel, slab and wall elements from two of Pennsylvania’s top building and transportation precast operators: High Concrete Group of Denver and Northeast Prestressed Products of Cressona. Precast members enabled contractor Neshaminy Construction of Feasterville, Pa. to deploy Accelerated Bridge Construction methods for the main span, confining U.S. Highway 30/Lancaster Ave. closure to two overnight schedules. The contractor likewise limited traffic disruptions for work on vertical conditions by having High Concrete deliver spandrel panels complete with fieldstone inlays.

Precast concrete versatility translated to arched forms, limestone surfaces, and decorative components, securing a strong architectural connection between campus and crossing. Custom profiles foster a sense of rhythm and scale: Panels are unique pieces with minimal repetition and feature limestone-like detailing that wraps from front to back. Abutment spandrels have specially designed profiles with their own radii, while the main bridge features four similarly shaped panels with a lower radius profile. The main bridge span also presents the Villanova crest and date of founding, imprinted with a custom formliner. 

Harmony and consistency with the campus aesthetic were high priorities for the university and designers Stern Architects, New York, and Voith & Mactavish Architects, Philadelphia. Taking a necessity like a pedestrian bridge and turning it into an asset was an added benefit for the designers, notes Erik Humes, senior project engineer for Macintosh Engineering of Wayne, Pa. “The result faithfully reproduces the university’s historic collegiate gothic aesthetic,” he adds. “The bridge feels like a part of the campus it serves, while also serving as a gateway to those approaching from the nearby interstate.”