Why Send Bay Bridge Scraps To China? Contest Planned To Find Use For Them Here

A Brisbane man hoping to build self-sustaining structures out of scraps from the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge says he plans to hold a competition for architecture students who believe they can create a winning design.

David Grieshaber, a technology entrepreneur, made headlines last week when he announced a proposed community project he believes would provide Bay Area residents with a two-pronged benefit: the creation of a self-sustaining eco-friendly multi-use space and the preservation of historic pieces of the bridge’s old eastern span.

Grieshaber launched his website, baybridgehouse.org, to coincide with the opening of the new span of the Bay Bridge. His site aims at releasing information about and gaining support for his plan to create what he calls “the most modern eco-technology house in the world.”

He hopes to create a multi-use space, along with lofts, all with a view of the new Bay Bridge.

The project includes the use of recycled pieces of the bridge as the structure of the building, as well as concrete, steel and glass. No wood or plaster is being deemed useful to the project, Grieshaber said.

His idea for the project arose months ago when Grieshaber and his wife were driving across the Bay Bridge.

“I asked my wife what she thought they were going to do with the scraps of the Bay Bridge and she suggested calling Caltrans to find out,” he said.

Grieshaber said he was shocked when he called and was told that most of the material would be sold to a company in China.

“I was told they were recycling some and selling the rest to China,” he said. “I was hoping it would stay in America” since the Bay Bridge is listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Bay Bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon said whatever happens to the materials is at the discretion of the contractors leading the demolition.

Gordon said transit officials expect pieces of the old span will be recycled or sold to other construction firms.

He said there are early-stage plans to save some pieces of the bridge to be preserved for unspecified historical purposes.

California Engineering Contractors Inc. and Silverado Contractors Inc. have been hired as a joint venture to take apart the bridge.

Grieshaber said he spent countless hours researching and interviewing people involved with building infrastructure resources housing. He learned about nonprofits, historical registries and eco-friendly living.

Armed with more than 1,000 signatures, Grieshaber said he was warned to prepare for a battle. He says he’s ready.

“I just want to save a big chunk of the Bay Bridge and keep it here in the Bay Area—so I thought, how can I create something that’s unique from this instead of keeping the material in a park or a museum?”

He said he wanted to create something both artistic and creative. He hopes the project will incorporate as much of the bridge as possible, including trusses, steel I-beams, steel girders, steel plates, wires, gates, fencing, ladders, walkways and concrete.

“We are merging the eco-friendly into the new generation and what the valiant Bay Area should be becoming,” he said.

Currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate architect students in Bay Area schools have until Oct. 13 to submit designs via email. Submissions must be full-color detailed sketches to full renders and at least two panels.

Students can register for the competition at www.baybridgehouse.org/register.

Aimee Lewis Strain, Bay City News

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