Salas O’Brien Wins Cold-Formed Steel Design Award for Park Union Bridge in Colorado Springs

June 26, 2023 – Salas O’Brien’s Denver-based structural engineering team was recently recognized by the Cold-Formed Steel Engineers Institute (CFSEI) with the first place Design Excellence Award in Non-Building Applications for the CFS design of the Park Union Bridge in Colorado Springs.

Called “the bridge of the future”, the Park Union Bridge is in southwest downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 250-foot-long $20M pedestrian bridge connects the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum with America the Beautiful Park. Architect of Record Diller Scofidio + Renfro Partner-in-Charge and Lead Designer Benjamin Gilmartin noted, “The bridge is an exercise in fitness – both in terms of material and geometry. The hybrid steel structure system functions as an arch and a truss, elegantly preserving views from Downtown to the majestic mountain ranges of Pike’s Peak.”

The Salas O’Brien project team, led by Senior Principal Russ Leffler, PE, P.ENG, MLSE, and Vice President Ryan Nelson, PE, was tasked with designing the CFS framing that supported the canted wall panels wrapping the inside of the twisting oculus. The CFS framing gradually curved and varied in height on each end, above and below the oculus. The primary challenge presented by the CFS design was the three-dimensional and rotational movement of the steel structure as it induced thermal, wind, seismic, and live loads. Each element required an allowable tolerance of movement so that the panels could achieve their smooth, flawless appearance. It took careful coordination with the structural engineer of record Arup North America, LTD, panel manufacturer MG McGrath Inc., and CFS contractor Spacecon Specialty Contractors to secure the final design.

The award ceremony was part of CFSEI’s annual expo and conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. CFSEI is a national organization comprised of structural engineers and other design professionals, and its annual Design Excellence Awards program recognizes outstanding achievement in creative design, technical innovation, and overall project excellence in the use of cold-formed steel, according to the CSFEI website.

To see all of the 2023 CFSEI Design Excellence award winners, visit CSFEI’s website at

Photography Credits: Jason O’Rear Photography

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