The Frances “Fanny” Appleton Bridge is new a 750’ (228m) long multi-use walkway located on the banks of the Charles River in Boston, MA.  It connects the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood to the Esplanade Park. The contemporary arch bridge crosses over Storrow Drive, an arterial roadway that separates the city from the river. As one of the main connections to the riverfront, the bridge attracts many visitors, including approximately half a million people during the 4th of July annual celebration along the river.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2020
First Award | Transportation (Built)

Project Name:  Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge
Studio Name: Rosales + Partners
Design Team: Miguel Rosales
Area: 8500 sqft
Year: 2018
Location: Boston, MA
Consultants: STV Inc. – Mark Pelletier
Photography Credits:  Miguel Rosales, Ian McLellan, Chris McIntosh, Dave Desroches, Juan Navarro
Other Credits: Owner:  DCR  –  Leo Roy
Contractor: White/Skanska/Consigli, JV – Robert Collari

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge By Rosales + Partners -2
©Rosales + Partners

The Appleton Bridge replaced an existing bridge, which was narrow and not ADA compliant.  The width of the crossing was increased from 7’ to 14’.  The bridge consists of a contemporary tubular steel arch with a span of approximately 222’ (68m) over the parkway.   The main steel superstructure of approximately 550’ (167m) is continuous without any joints and its shape in plan follows a curvilinear alignment.   The bridge placement and overall geometry was carefully selected to comply with the ADA maximum slope requirements and avoid impacting large trees in the parkland as much as possible.   The overall length of the bridge is approximately 750’ with several entry points and connections to the existing network of walkways along the Charles River Esplanade.

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge By Rosales + Partners -3
©Rosales + Partners

One of the goals for the new pedestrian bridge project was to achieve visual transparency and lightness to allow views of the park, river and adjacent historic landmark Longfellow Bridge.  The elegant steel superstructure consists of steel girders, which are curved in two directions, branching into two curved staircases and a scenic overlook plaza near the river.

The main steel arch has a unique shape being wider at the crown and narrower at the abutments, which allows the size of the anchoring abutments at the park level to be minimal in size.  The arch also includes a series of inclined struts creating a unique aesthetic truss effect.   The arch is the longest bridge span over Storrow Drive connecting the city to the riverfront.  The crossing is also higher than any other existing bridge along the highway corridor opening views and incorporating appropriate vertical clearances.   The bridge approaches include Y-shaped piers which visually match the main architectural theme creating a visually unified structural system.  The Y-shaped

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge By Rosales + Partners -4
©Rosales + Partners

piers also visually relate to the branches of the many trees in the park.  Aesthetic lighting is also included to increase the sense of safety and appeal at night.

The pedestrian bridge is named after the wife of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most widely known and best-loved American poets of his lifetime. He used to cross the Charles River from Cambridge to Beacon Hill in the 1840s while he was courting “Fanny” Appleton, and the new bridge visually complements the historic Longfellow Bridge as a symbol of their union.

Frances Appleton Pedestrian Bridge By Rosales + Partners -5
©Rosales + Partners

The new signature Appleton pedestrian bridge has quickly become a source of pride for the community due to its technical ingenuity, elegant detailing and context sensitive design, which perfectly integrates into Boston’s landscape and historic riverfront.


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