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Projects : Golden Gate Bridge Exhibit

Golden Gate Bridge Outdoor Exhibition


Descriptions and Summary Illustrations of exhibits [download list]

1-6 | 7-12 | 13-18 | 19-24 | 25-30 | 31-36

Exhibit Description
Geology of Bridge Foundations
Tectonic forces acting on the area around the Golden Gate created a complex variety of rocks. Serpentine forms the bedrock under the anchorage and South Tower. The bedrock at the north side of the Gate is chert, made up of the fossilized skeletal remains of billions of radiolarian protozoa. The difference in bedrock required foundation designs to be customized each foundation location’s properties, including load testing prior to construction.
Braille Model of Bridge
A bronze tactile-readable tabletop model of the Bridge with Braille captions. Not described here are ways to make the exhibits accessible to people of varying capabilities, including language (see #29).
The Ways the Bridge Vibrates
The Bridge has many modes of vibration, or ways in which it can move in response to wind or earthquakes. This mechanical hands-on exhibit lets visitors “excite” (shake) the model in varying ways to see how it responds. The main span between the towers can sway sideways, back and forth like a swing, or it can take on a snake-like pattern of vertical or horizontal displacement depending on the rate at which it is moved. In the try-out of the prototype at the Bridge, it also served the useful purpose of providing visitors with photo opportunities and activities when the Gate was socked in with thick fog.
Tracking Daily Movements of the Bridge
In a normal day, the Bridge deck rises up a few feet at night when it gets colder and the steel in the cables shrinks and there is less traffic weight on it. It goes down in the daytime with rise in temperature and traffic load. It sways to the east when the wind comes off the ocean from the west. This exhibit displays actual measured movements of the bridge, which can be “played” forward and backward.
Maximum Bridge Deflection, Left
A small structure can’t move much or it would break. (If a house swayed one inch / 2.5 cm to the side in an earthquake, there would be damage). A very large structure can move (displace) a large amount because the amount of bending per unit length is small, yet it still adds up to large overall amount. This exhibit simply posts (literally with posts) the sideways movement at midspan the Bridge is designed to accommodate: 27.7-inch (8.4 m) to left (west) and the same amount to the right (east).
Maximum Bridge Deflection, Center
Same as #23 except this has a different number to identify the different location of this exhibit on the site plan.
[see #23]

1-6 | 7-12 | 13-18 | 19-24 | 25-30 | 31-36


Funding for the project has been provided by the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation. Dr. Al DeSena is the NSF project officer for this award. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

All images are the property of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and cannot be re-used without its permission. Contact Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director,

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Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 05.27.14