photo courtesy of: Ricardo Barros  





photo courtesy of: J. Wayman Williams

Watch an interview with Liz. Choose your connection speed:
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See how Liz built the Vessy Bridge model.

See animated Vessy Bridge deflections.




“From this project I learned how to read structural drawings and I learned how to translate these two-dimensional drawings into a three-dimensional model. This was the real challenge of the project. I wasn’t sure until after I had cut out the pieces and glued them together that they would really fit and form the model that I had in mind.”

Elizabeth (“Liz”) Grau is a senior from outside Philadelphia who is studying civil engineering in the Architecture and Engineering program. She chose the major because she is intrigued by structures and enjoys learning about the design, mechanics, and aesthetic considerations behind successful bridges and buildings. Her interest in aesthetics extends to her hobbies, which include painting and drawing. She is also an athlete who competes on the Princeton Varsity Cross Country and Track and Field teams.

Liz created models of Maillart’s Salginatobel and Vessy Bridges. The process was essentially the same for both, as they were made of the same material. First she studied the original engineering drawings to determine the appropriate size for the models. Once the dimensions were determined, she modeled the different parts of the bridges in AutoCAD. The pieces drawn in AutoCAD were two-dimensional shapes that could be cut out by the laser cutter in Plexiglas®. Most of the parts of the model were flat; however, the arch needed to be curved. John Hunter from the School of Architecture helped her make two wooden molds, one for the Salginatobel arch and one for the Vessy arch. A flat piece of Plexiglas® was placed on the mold, and then heated in the oven so that the Plexiglas® deformed into the appropriate shape for the arch. Once the different pieces were cut, the models were assembled by gluing the Plexiglas® parts together. The transparent Plexiglas® models were spray-painted a gray-beige color to give them the appearance of concrete, the material of the actual bridges.




© 2003 The Princeton University Art Museum