IT Lab   About Frank  ·  About IT   ·  Ravenel Bridge  ·  Unbuilding Bridges  ·  Nature Photo Essays   ·  Forgetting  
Changing the face of Charleston:
Building of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Frank's Home Page
Karpeles Museum display's my story of Building the Ravenel Bridge:
Oct 17, 2007 - ? (Permanent Exhibit)
Archive of building stories
Exploring digital sketches
Unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges
Visit our Photo Essays
Click for all web page building segments
I enjoy hearing from you. If you have comments and suggestions, write me.

As seen from the Aquarium
East Bay on ramp
The Last Shark Fin
Closing the main span gap
Paving the bridge
The last stay cable
Opening Events
Engineering Challenges
Stories of Bridge Folks
Erecting Steel
Building Bridge Blog

The Ravenel Bridge (2002 - 2005) was a design-build project where the design and construction aspects of the project overlap. From August 23, 2003 until July 16, 2005, I tracked the construction of the Ravenel Bridge than this web site evolved from a so-so grandkids project to a passion. SCDOT (Bobby Clair), PBC (Wade Watson, Peo Halvarsson, Marvin Tallent), High Steel (Bill Mankin) and Freyssinet (Olivier Forget) opened many doors for me. Skanska has provided an excellent summary of the major innovations of our bridge. The Ravenel Bridge replaces the Grace Bridge (1929 - 2007) and the Pearman Bridge (1966 - 2007). It was a privilege to look inside the project and, with photo essays, document many of the bridge construction processes. While the building is complete, the story of the builders and the Charleston Community continues. I moved to Sinapore in March of 2006. In Singapore, my photo interests have shifted from construction processes to behavior of small insects and spiders. Without parents, books or the Internet, how do they learn to weave and repair a web, capture prey and reproduce? No design-build here, just plain building life. And speaking of life, T. S. Eliot, in the Four Quartets, captured the essence of our adventure:

Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
From T.S. Eliot (East Coker from the Four Quartets)

Highlights of the building of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge:
Click a photo below for a link to the story. For all stories click All Stories - or the archive

First photos from the SC Aquarium

Main span platform started

First stay cable pulled

My first bicycle adventure to get a closer look

Adding shark-fin edge girders

Lateral tendons

Hurricane cables

Freyssinet: Building a stay cable

A visit to High Steel, Lancaster Pa.

Closing the gap between the west backspan and west approach

Joining the east approach to the east backspan

High Steel: Drilling and reaming the last splice plate

Freyssinet: Pulling the last cable strands

Closing the main span gap

A visit to the bridge with my dad

Installing the splice plate

The last floor panel

Main span curvature

Freyssinet: Injecting cable housings

Freyssinet: Seating and sealing internal cable assemblies

Meet the Bidwell Paving Machine

Ungrowing the east tower crane

Building the anchor boxes

The traveler - a ride under the bridge

Wind dynamics over the diamond towers

Completion of the external dampers

Cleco: Night paving - oops - too windy

A view from the top

Cleco: The last night for pouring concrete

The elegance of symmetry

East Bay on-ramp completed

Views of a clean bridge (A gift from Wade Watson)

Opening ceremony fireworks

What is a signature bridge

First day of traffic

A big thanks to the folks at SCDOT, PBC, High Steel, Freyssinet - and many many who others opened doors in order to help me better understand what all of us saw from a distance - but few had an opportunity to view up close and personal. Web pages seemed like a good way to share both what I saw as well as the experiences that I had. I not only learned a lot about bridge building but also about building web pages that enable learning and sharing. All these experiences feed back to learning strategies we are developing at universities where I have worked. Visit the pages on the menu bar above - if you would like to see more click on the archive of all the web page segments (on the left border of the top photo) I built over the lifetime of the construction phases.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Attribution: C. Frank Starmer from