Bay Bridge Architect Explains Design of New Span

By Lee Foster

The new Bay Bridge replacement span, Donald MacDonald consulting architect -- his house designs are available on

Donald MacDonald was clearly the man of the hour when I caught up with him recently. He is the local architect who designed the Tower and East Span of the new Bay Bridge. His design has been received by citizens with nearly universal acclaim. 

“Oakland deserved a positive and bold visual statement in the new Tower and East Span design,” he said. “This was a great branding opportunity, helping Oakland imagine itself forward into the future. I felt the design should be something more than a mundane transportation structure. All over the world, communities are using bridges to make iconic design statements about their uniqueness.” 

MacDonald pointed out to me that the Golden State Warriors basketball team already had the new Tower as a logo on their uniforms. Sure enough, when I looked at a sports clip on the evening news, there it was—the new Bay Bridge on their uniform. 

I bought a copy of MacDonald’s new book on the Bridge design, titled Bay Bridge: History and Design of a New Icon(Chronicle Books). The book combines a lucid text with his rather charming paintings of numerous design elements that went into the Bridge. It is amazing to catalog the hundreds of design aspects that coalesce in a final mammoth project, such as this Bridge.

(Image courtesy Chronicle Books)

“I looked out from the old Bridge to those white cranes at the Port of Oakland,” he said. “They have an imposing beauty in themselves. They also suggest a robust prosperity in Oakland. I noticed they were painted white. So I insisted on the same white color for the new Bridge and Tower, which would unify the setting.” 

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Originally Published in Visit Oakland

Sun Dec 22 00:00:00 PST 2013