During the past several decades, France has become the home of some rather iconic modernist structures, such as La Defense and the rather intriguing Pompidou Center. With one quite bold stroke, the rural landscape of southern France has just this week become home to one of the world's truly impressive engineering (and architectural) feats as the Millau bridge opened this past Tuesday. Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the bridge rises 891 feet above the Tarn valley for one and a half miles as it passes through France's Massif Central mountain range. In an interview with a French newspaper, Foster remarked that "A work of man must fuse with nature. The pillars had to look almost organic, like they had grown from the earth." In recent years, Foster has gained acclaim for his other monumental structures, which include London's Millennium Bridge and the Hearst Headquarters project in New York. Colorado's Royal Gorge Bridge remains the world's tallest suspension bridge, although it is designed for pedestrians. For those who may be considering a drive over the structure, prices will vary from 4.90 euros ($6.50) in winter and 6.50 euros ($8.62) in summer.
The first link leads to a nice feature from National Public Radio that includes an interview by their own Robert Siegel with the mayor of the city of Millau, Jacques Godfin. The second link leads to a news piece from the online edition of Wednesday's Independent newspaper that talks about the continued admiration for the art and science of bridge building. The third link provides a host of material on the bridge, its construction, and literally hundreds of different views of the structure. It should be noted that, while the entire site is in French, the site is still worth a visit due to the remarkable images and renderings. Moving on to the fourth link, visitors can peruse the website of the architectural firm of Foster and Partners. Here they can view a list of the group's current and previously completed projects, and learn more about the partners' work. The fifth site offers some "Bridge Basics" for novice bridge aficionados, and they will quickly learn how to tell a deck truss from a pony truss in no time at all. The sixth and final link leads to a site from the Discovery Channel that affords some insights into feats of "extreme" engineering, such as Boston's Big Dig and the proposed Bering Strait Bridge.
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