Millau Viaduct, France

The 2006 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award has been conferred to three structures: The Central Bus Station Hamburg, Germany, The Rion Antirion Bridge; Greece, The Millau Viaduct, France. Professor Manfred A. Hirt, President of IABSE, conferred the Award at the Opening of the IABSE Symposium ‘Structures and Extreme Events’ in Budapest, Hungary on September13, 2006.

The Award recognises the most remarkable, innovative, creative or otherwise stimulating structures completed within the last few years. It consists of a Plaque to be fixed to the structure and Diplomas for the Structural Engineer, the Architect, the Contractor, and the Owner.

The Millau Viaduct received the Outstanding Structure Award for being ‘an elegant, slender bridge soaring above a deep valley connecting two plateaus which was constructed using an innovative launching procedure which advanced the state of practice in bridge construction’.

The cable-stayed bridge is situated in the Tarn River Valley in Southern France and was inaugurated on December 14th 2004. It is continuous along its eight cable-stayed spans (typical span of 342 m). The ‘useful project life’ is 120 years. The deck is a trapezoidal profiled metal box girder with an upper orthotropic decking. The 87 m high pylons are composed of two stiffened metal box girders. The eleven pairs of cables which support each span are arranged in a single plane in a half-fan pattern.

Piers P2 (height 245 m) and P3 (height 223 m) are the two highest piers ever built in the world. From their base to 90 meters below the deck, the piers rise as a single hollow shaft, then they are divided into two separate parallel shafts, which are each pre-stressed vertically by eight cables.

 December 5, 2007:          

 Plaque Unveiling Ceremony at the Millau Viaduct, France

It was as if the weather had known just how to behave when it unveiled the Millau Viaduct from the mist and presented it under a crisp blue sky on December 5, 2007 for the Outstanding Structure Award plaque unveiling ceremony.

IABSE chose the Millau Viaduct, designed by French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux and architects Foster and Partners, as the recipient of its 2006 Outstanding Structure Award:   for being “an elegant, slender bridge soaring above a deep valley connecting two plateaus …constructed using an innovative launching procedure which advanced the state of practice in bridge construction”. In 2006 IABSE conferred the IABSE Diplomas to the structural engineer, the architect, the owner and the contractor.

The Ceremony, prepared with the great support of the contractor ‘Eiffage’, took  place under the Viaduct close to the ‘Cazalous’ information centre, where the plaque  was mounted on a full scale model of the highest pier base.

Ms. Elisabeth Borne, CEO of ‘Compagnie Eiffage du Viaduc de Millau (CEVM)’, welcomed the 100 invited guests. Michel Virlogeux and many of the professionals involved in the realisation of the Viaduct were present.

IABSE representatives were Jacques Combault, President of IABSE, Loring A. Wyllie Jr., Chair of the ‘Outstanding Structure Award Committee’ and Manfred H. Hirt former President of IABSE.

French officials attending were: Jean Guenard, President of Eiffage TP; Pierre Garlencq, Mayor of Creissels; Jacques Godfrain, former Minister of the French Government and Mayor of the City of Millau, and Henri Plane, Subprefect of the “Département de l’Aveyron.

In his address on behalf of IABSE, President Combault congratulated :

• the boldness of the engineers of the French Technical Department for Public Works and Transportation (SETRA) for having chosen the most economical and ecological route

• the achievement of all those who conceived the design down to its finest details and all those who developed the innovative construction methods necessary to the completion of the project

• all those who successfully built this structure and performed the connection of the two incrementally launched parts of the bridge with a tremendous precision in the middle of the span overhanging the Tarn

• the architect who gave the raw framework its  majestic  touch.

After the address of Jacques Combault, Ms. Lepingle (spouse of Mr François Lepingle, Ingénieur Général des Ponts et Chaussées) unveiled the plaque.  Other speeches were made by French officials. The ceremony ended and the guests assembled in the ‘Cazalous’ for a savoury  lunch buffet.  The event received considerable press coverage in France .

 Jacques Combault and Michel Virlogeux