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All Together Now

All Together Now

by Starling Insights

Starling Insights Editorial Board

May 15, 2021


London’s Millennium Bridge is one of the most beautiful to cross the Thames. After a 1996 competition held by the Southwark Council, with the involvement of the Financial Times and the Royal Institute of British Architects, the “Blade of Light” design submitted by renowned architects Sir Norman Foster and Partners, engineering firm Over Arup & Partners, and sculptor Sir Anthony Caro was selected for the first new bridge to be built across the river in over 100 years. The 1,082 foot bridge would connect the Tate Modern Gallery, on the river’s south bank, with the neighborhood surrounding St. Paul’s Cathedral on the north. On June 10th, 2000, Queen Elizabeth II presiding, some 100,000 people turned out for the opening of the Millennium Bridge to be first among those to cross it.

Shortly after they began to cross the bridge, however, the pedestrians felt it begin to wobble from side to side gently. As they continued to cross, the wobbling became more and more obvious, and soon, the bridge began to sway and twist in regular oscillations, forcing people to cling to the banisters to avoid falling. As the oscillations grew increasingly extreme, pedestrians feared the bridge might collapse under them. The bridge was closed to the public on June 12th and remained closed for two years while engineers designed a fix. What went wrong?

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