Pier (architecture)

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The Pont du Gard (c.19 BC), Nimes; 3 rows of piers with arches springing from them to support the bridge. Pont du Gard BLS.jpg
The Pont du Gard (c.19 BC), Nîmes; 3 rows of piers with arches springing from them to support the bridge.

A pier, in architecture, is an upright support for a structure or superstructure such as an arch or bridge. Sections of structural walls between openings (bays) can function as piers.

Contents

Description

The simplest cross section of the pier is square, or rectangular, but other shapes are also common. In medieval architecture, massive circular supports called drum piers, cruciform (cross-shaped) piers, and compound piers are common architectural elements.

Columns are a similar upright support, but stand on a round base. In buildings with a sequence of bays between piers, each opening (window or door) between two piers is considered a single bay.

Bridge piers

A concrete girder bridge pier during construction prior to installation of the bridge deck and parapets, consisting of multiple angled pylons for support (bottom), a horizontal concrete cap (center), and girders (top) with temporary wood bracing Poinciana Parkway RCMB bridge construction 4.jpg
A concrete girder bridge pier during construction prior to installation of the bridge deck and parapets, consisting of multiple angled pylons for support (bottom), a horizontal concrete cap (center), and girders (top) with temporary wood bracing
Quadruple support piers for the fly-over at the traffic junction 24 Oktoberplein (Utrecht, Netherlands) Quadruple support pillars for the fly-over at the traffic junction 24 Oktoberplein (Utrecht).jpg
Quadruple support piers for the fly-over at the traffic junction 24 Oktoberplein (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Single-span bridges have abutments at each end that support the weight of the bridge and serve as retaining walls to resist lateral movement of the earthen fill of the bridge approach. [1] Multi-span bridges require piers to support the ends of spans between these abutments. In cold climates, the upstream edge of a pier may include a starkwater to prevent accumulation of broken ice during peak snowmelt flows. The starkwater has a sharpened upstream edge sometimes called a cutwater. The cutwater edge may be of concrete or masonry, but is often capped with a steel angle to resist abrasion and focus force at a single point to fracture floating pieces of ice striking the pier. In cold climates, the starling is typically sloped at an angle of about 45°  so current pushing against the ice tends to lift the downstream edge of the ice translating horizontal force of the current to vertical force against a thinner cross-section of ice until unsupported weight of ice fractures the piece of ice allowing it to pass on either side of the pier. [2]

Examples

The Arc de Triomphe, Paris, supported by 4 massive planar piers. Arc Triomphe edit.jpg
The Arc de Triomphe, Paris, supported by 4 massive planar piers.

In the Arc de Triomphe, Paris (illustration, right) the central arch and side arches are raised on four massive planar piers.

St Peter's Basilica

Original plan by Bramante for St Peter's Basilica (Rome). SaintPierre.svg
Original plan by Bramante for St Peter's Basilica (Rome).

The original plan by Donato Bramante for St Peter's Basilica in Rome has richly articulated piers, rendered in solid black (illustration, left). The vaulting they support is in double lines, a familiar representation convention in architectural plans. Four piers support the weight of the dome at the central crossing. These piers were found to be too small to support the weight and were changed later by Michelangelo to account for the massive weight of the dome. [3]

The piers of the four apses that project from each outer wall are also strong, to withstand the outward thrust of the half-domes upon them. Many niches articulate the wall-spaces of the piers. [3]

Montacute House (c.1598), England: piers of the long gallery have niches with statues of the 'Nine Worthies'. MontacuteNineWorthies.jpg
Montacute House (c.1598), England: piers of the long gallery have niches with statues of the 'Nine Worthies'.




See also

Related Research Articles

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Arch bridge

An arch bridge is a bridge with abutments at each end shaped as a curved arch. Arch bridges work by transferring the weight of the bridge and its loads partially into a horizontal thrust restrained by the abutments at either side. A viaduct may be made from a series of arches, although other more economical structures are typically used today.

Flying buttress

The flying buttress is a specific form of buttress composed of an arch that extends from the upper portion of a wall to a pier of great mass, in order to convey to the ground the lateral forces that push a wall outwards, which are forces that arise from vaulted ceilings of stone and from wind-loading on roofs.

Rib vault Architectural element

A rib vault or ribbed vault is an architectural feature for covering a wide space, such as a church nave, composed of a framework of crossed or diagonal arched ribs. Variations were used in Roman architecture, Byzantine architecture, Islamic architecture, Romanesque architecture, and especially Gothic architecture. Thin stone panels fill the space between the ribs. This greatly reduced the weight and thus the outward thrust of the vault. The ribs transmit the load downward and outward to specific points, usually rows of columns or piers. This feature allowed architects of Gothic cathedrals to make higher and thinner walls and much larger windows.

Arch dam Type of concrete dam that is curved upstream in plan

An arch dam is a concrete dam that is curved upstream in plan. The arch dam is designed so that the force of the water against it, known as hydrostatic pressure, presses against the arch, causing the arch to straighten slightly and strengthening the structure as it pushes into its foundation or abutments. An arch dam is most suitable for narrow canyons or gorges with steep walls of stable rock to support the structure and stresses. Since they are thinner than any other dam type, they require much less construction material, making them economical and practical in remote areas.

Abutment

An abutment is the substructure at the ends of a bridge span or dam supporting its superstructure. Single-span bridges have abutments at each end which provide vertical and lateral support for the span, as well as acting as retaining walls to resist lateral movement of the earthen fill of the bridge approach. Multi-span bridges require piers to support ends of spans unsupported by abutments. Dam abutments are generally the sides of a valley or gorge, but may be artificial in order to support arch dams such as Kurobe Dam in Japan.

Cropredy Bridge

Cropredy Bridge is a bridge in north Oxfordshire that carries the minor road between Cropredy and the hamlet of Williamscot. It spans the River Cherwell, which is also the boundary between the civil parishes of Wardington and Cropredy. The bridge has three spans, a reinforced concrete deck and is faced with Hornton stone. Each of the three spans is 12 feet (3.7 m). The present bridge was completed in 1937, but there has been a bridge on this site since at least 1312.

Starling (structure)

In architecture, a starling or, more commonly, cutwater is a defensive bulwark, usually built with pilings or bricks, surrounding the supports of a bridge or similar construction. Starlings may be shaped to ease the flow of the water around the bridge, reducing the damage caused by erosion or collisions with flood-borne debris, and may also form an important part of the structure of the bridge, spreading the weight of the piers. Shaping of the bulwark can render the current of water less forceful and/or better protect against erosion or other damage; the term cutwater especially applies for bulwarks that are relatively effective in that way. A starkwater is a bulwark specifically against ice damage.

This page is a glossary of architecture.

Vault (architecture)

In architecture, a vault is a self-supporting arched form, usually of stone or brick, serving to cover a space with a ceiling or roof. The simplest kind of vault is the barrel vault, which is generally semicircular in shape. The barrel vault is a continuous arch, the length being greater than its diameter. As in building an arch, a temporary support is needed while rings of voussoirs are constructed and the rings placed in position. Until the topmost voussoir, the keystone, is positioned, the vault is not self-supporting. Where timber is easily obtained, this temporary support is provided by centering consisting of a framed truss with a semicircular or segmental head, which supports the voussoirs until the ring of the whole arch is completed. With a barrel vault, the centering can then be shifted on to support the next rings.

Sangarius Bridge

The Sangarius Bridge or Bridge of Justinian is a late Roman bridge over the river Sakarya in Anatolia, in modern-day Turkey. It was built by the East Roman Emperor Justinian I (527-565 AD) to improve communications between the capital Constantinople and the eastern provinces of his empire. With a remarkable length of 430 m, the bridge was mentioned by several contemporary writers, and has been associated with a supposed project, first proposed by Pliny the Younger to Emperor Trajan, to construct a navigable canal that would bypass the Bosporus.

Bridge near Limyra

The Bridge near Limyra is a late Roman bridge in Lycia, in modern south-west Turkey, and one of the oldest segmented arch bridges in the world. Located near the ancient city of Limyra, it is the largest civil engineering structure of antiquity in the region, spanning the Alakır Çayı river over a length of 360 m (1,181.1 ft) on 26 segmental arches. These arches, with a span-to-rise ratio of 5.3:1, give the bridge an unusually flat profile, and were unsurpassed as an architectural achievement until the late Middle Ages. Today, the structure is largely buried by river sediments and surrounded by greenhouses. Despite its unique features, the bridge remains relatively unknown, and only in the 1970s did researchers from the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute carry out field examinations on the site.

Macestus Bridge

The Macestus Bridge or Bridge of Sultançayır was a Roman bridge across the Macestus River at Balıkesir, in the northwestern part of modern-day Turkey. Its flattened arches, slender piers and the hollow chamber system documented the progress made in late antique bridge building. A first cursory investigation of the 234 m long structure was conducted in the early 20th century, but since then its existence has been largely neglected by scholars. Current photos from 2009 show that the bridge has collapsed in the meantime.

Aesepus Bridge

The Aesepus Bridge was a late antique Roman bridge over the Aesepus river in the ancient region of Mysia in modern-day Turkey. It is notable for its advanced hollow chamber system which has also been employed in other Roman bridges in the region, such as the Makestos Bridge. In a field examination carried out in the early 20th century, the four main vaults of the bridge were found in ruins, while nearly all piers and the seven minor arches had still remained intact. Today, the two remaining pier stubs in the riverbed are still extant, while the condition of the rest of the structure is difficult to determine.

Chesters Bridge

Chesters Bridge was a Roman bridge over the River North Tyne at Chollerford, Northumberland, England, and adjacent to Chesters Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall. The fort, mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum, and now identified with the fort found at Chesters, was known as Cilurnum or Cilurvum.

Rigid-frame bridge Type of bridge

A Rigid-frame bridge is a bridge in which the superstructure and substructure are rigidly connected to act as a continuous unit. Typically, the structure is cast monolithically, making the structure continuous from deck to foundation. The connections between members are rigid connections which transfer bending moment, axial forces, and shear forces. A bridge design consisting of a rigid frame can provide significant structural benefits, but can also be difficult to design and/or construct.

Komsomolsk-on-Amur road-rail bridge

The bridge across the Amur River is a road-rail bridge across the Amur River near the city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The bridge has a single-rail track and two-lane highway that allows to completely divide automobiles and other traffic from trains. The bridge carries also a single-circuit 220 kV-powerline.

Bremer River Rail Bridge

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Burdekin River Rail Bridge

Burdekin River Rail Bridge is a heritage-listed former railway bridge on the Great Northern railway over the Burdekin River at Dotswood, Charters Towers Region, Queensland, Australia. It was designed by Henry Charles Stanley and built from c. 1896 to 1899 by Swanson Brothers. It is also known as Macrossan Bridge. It was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.

Carron Bridge (River Spey) Bridge in Scotland

The Carron Bridge is a bridge at Carron in Moray, Scotland, which crosses the River Spey between the parishes of Knockando and Aberlour. It was built for the Strathspey Railway in 1863, to a design by Alexander Gibb, an engineer for the Great North of Scotland Railway, and fabricated by the iron founders William McKinnon and Co. It originally carried both the railway and a roadway, but the railway has now closed.

References

  1. Abbett, Robert W. (1957). American Civil Engineering Practice. III. New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 26–32.
  2. Urquhart, Leonard Church (1959). Civil Engineering Handbook (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. pp. 8–75.
  3. 1 2 M. Fazio, Buildings Across Time, 312