2021 Forge Prize Winner

Florida Canyon Footbridge

Hunter Ruthrauff of T.Y. Lin International Group in San Diego designed a 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge that spans Balboa Park's Florida Canyon. Ruthrauff chose 3D-printed steel because it offers better tensile strength than 3D-printed concrete and lessens the complexity of the design process.

Ruthrauff’s design draws on Spanish-inspired architecture in the Prado, local flora, and the nearby Cabrillo Bridge. The bridge’s organic form reflects the network of trails in Florida Canyon.

The bridge’s open deck offers uninterrupted views and some unconventional public space: large hammocks over four apertures that look down into the canyon. The project would take advantage of the unconventional shapes that are possible with 3D-printed structural steel.

Although the Forge Prize is a conceptual competition, the judges all expressed confidence that Ruthrauff’s bridge will be built someday. “I don’t think any of us have a doubt in our mind that it’s going to come together and be a catalyst for the rest of us across the country,” said Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Associate at Adjaye Associates Architects. “[Ruthrauff] really convinced us that [he] can actually help solve some of the infrastructure issues that are plaguing our nation.”

“Over the last 37 years since our founding, we’ve fabricated some unique and interesting projects, but the projects we’ve enjoyed most involve finding solutions to challenges created by architects’ innovative use of steel,” said STS Steel, Inc. President Glenn Tabolt, who served as Ruthrauff’s mentor during the competition. “I was not that familiar with the use of 3D printing in such a large structure, but the more I worked with Hunter and understood the technology, the more enthusiastic I became about his design.”

Hunter Ruthrauff

Hunter is a senior design associate within T.Y. Lin International’s Architecture and Visualization Group (AVG). He grew up in LA county and received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master of Architecture in Design Computation from the University of Washington Seattle. At T.Y. Lin International he designs some of the firm’s most high profile vehicular, pedestrian, and rail bridges. Projects include Sacramento’s I-Street Bridge Replacement, the Panama 4th Crossing, Miami’s I-395, the Avalon Gateway Bridge, and Fremont Innovation District overcrossing. He is also a founding member of the company’s innovation department and the head of the Digi-Fab Lab that experiments with 3D printing and CNC routing. He heavily leverages parametric tools in his design process as a way of iterating and exploring architectural form as well as streamlining documentation. He is the co-founder of M-Form and the inventor of the company’s robotic mold technology that specializes in the mass customization of curved architectural panels.

2021 Forge Prize Finalists: Runners-Up

Mert Kansu and Yimeng Teng of VMDO Architects proposed a civic mixed-use plaza in Richmond, Va., that focuses on public engagement, community programs, and sustainability. Their design incorporates steel plates to create an expressive folding form.

Jieun Yang of Habitat Workshop imagined Signal Park in San Jose, Calif., a cluster of urban villages that seamlessly blend into the area's natural landscape. The steel scaffolding structure in the park would collect and filter rainwater to be used for cooling mist stations and site irrigation.

Meet the Finalists

Mert Kansu

Mert Kansu is a designer at VMDO Architects in Charlottesville, Virginia. Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, he received his M.Arch degree and Urban Design Certificate at University of Virginia. He is passionate in solving urban problems that allows him to delve into sociology, history and culture of the people and the area. He believes in honesty and function in design and advocates for equitable and resilient buildings that promote social interaction and diversity.

Yimeng Teng

Yimeng graduated from University of Virginia’s Master of Architecture program in 2015 and has been working with VMDO Architects in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is a design firm focusing on academic and community projects where she develops keen interest in public architecture with an enduring design.

Aside from buildings, she has a passion in small scale installations where she can apply creativity to more transparent interventions within a shorter timeline. With an undergraduate degree in highway and bridge engineering, she also believes well combined architecture and structure has the best story to tell.

Jieun Yang

Jieun Yang, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, CPHC, is the founding principal of Habitat Workshop, an award winning architecture and urban design practice based in Brooklyn, NY. With projects ranging from civic and research projects to homes and exhibitions, Habitat Workshop creates spaces, objects, ideas, and experiences that embrace human connection and placemaking.

Recent awards and honors include AN Best of Design, NYCxDESIGN Awards, Interior Design’s Best in Design, and Women in Design. Jieun is a fellow at the Urban Design Forum and the Institute for Public Architecture, a recipient of the Stewardson Keefe LeBrun Travel Grant and the SOM Prize.

Jieun holds a B.A. in architecture from Yale University and an M.Arch from Columbia University GSAPP. Before founding Habitat Workshop, she worked at SOM, BKSK, and 1100: Architect in New York working on cultural, public, and residential architecture. Jieun is currently an adjunct assistant professor at CUNY City Tech and a part-time faculty at Parsons the New School for Design.

Congratulations to the 2021 Forge Prize winner and runners-up!