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Re-Imagining SF Bay Bridge in modo

modo based architect re-examines possible public uses for Eastern Section of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge


A massive project is underway to replace the eastern portion of the 73-year old Bay Bridge, however bay area architect and Luxology modo user Ronald Rael sees other visions for the old structure, including its re-use as a public space with parks, houses and sporting facilities.

Ronald Rael is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley and a partner in Rael San Fratello Architects. He used modo to develop his innovative concept for the Bay Bridge. The result is a transformational space he believes would become a San Francisco landmark, with housing units hung from the bottom span of the bridge and a trail that links public spaces along the top level.

“I love how quickly I can prototype ideas using modo,” says Rael. “I believe modo has profound implications for architecture, even though it is not necessarily an architectural software. It opens up wonderful creative opportunities by bringing both freedom and efficiency to this kind of visualization.”

Rael is a staunch advocate of repurposing old urban infrastructure. One of the main inspirations for his Bay Bridge design is a New York City apartment he once lived in that overlooked The High Line Park, an old elevated railway that is currently being converted into a public park.

“These structures are part of our collective culture, and creative minds can re-envision them using tools like modo,” he says. “If a linear park was created on the Bay Bridge, people would come from all over the world to see it. At the least, I hope this proposal helps to gets people thinking about reusing existing structures instead of simply tearing them down.”

In the meantime, Rael is involved in several other high-profile architectural projects that involve modo, including a UCLA-sponsored project called WPA 2.0 that examines new approaches to public infrastructure, with an upcoming presentation to politicians in Washington, D.C. this November. Rael is proposing the use of solar panels or water treatment facilities instead of fences along the U.S.-Mexican border, providing useful functions while preserving border security. He relied heavily upon modo’s replicator feature for the creation of hundreds of photo-realistic solar panels and waterways.

Whether he’s designing bridges, buildings, or fabricating new materials, Rael has found modo to be an essential tool for realizing creative designs.

“I think the language of my work has actually changed through the lens of modo,” he says. “If you use a parallel bar, you would design a certain way, because you’re limited by the linear orientation. But using modo, I actually feel as though I’m using the part of my brain that allows me to be more creative and makes the experience more enjoyable.”

More information about Ronald Rael and his work with modo can be found at

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