2019 Charrette

“Charrette reminded me why I chose the path I did towards my profession. I saw myself in the eyes of the intelligent and motivated young people who took part in this wonderful event. Teamwork and creativity at its best. Can’t wait till next year.”

– Paul Lucien, P.E., Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Engineering/Architecture Design Division

Each June, the Salvadori Annual Student Design Charrette brings together 100 students from schools all over the city to participate in an all-day design challenge. In the morning, students are given a design challenge related to the built environment, and are asked to create a solution according to a particular set of parameters and using only the materials provided. For the rest of the day, they work in teams made up of students from different schools, with the assistance of professional architects and engineers from New York’s leading firms, who volunteer their time for the event. Solutions are presented and/or tested at the end of the day.

This year, they designed, built, and tested their remodeled versions of the Nueva Sal Bridge—out of spaghetti, ziti and glue! During the event, fifth to eighth grade students were placed in small, mixed-age design teams, mentored by engineers and architects from some of the city’s leading firms. The challenge was to submit a bridge design that was stronger and more efficient than the old one, while still preserving the existing roadway and abutments. With only 4 hours to build, each team used math and science concepts to stabilize their bridge designs and allow it to hold as much weight possible. All bridge designs were required to have a 32-inch span between abutments and 4-inch horizontal clearance at the center of the roadway.

Many bridges were indeed creative, and definitely influenced by the infamous Nueva Sal bridge itself! Each bridge was tested by weight until it could no longer hold.
The Annual Charrette is always a learning experience for Salvadori students! Watch how Executive Director, Kenn, uses Team 9’s submission to explain the role of tension and compression in design and construction:

Check out the gallery below to see the bridge creations throughout the day!


This project is made possible through a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Challenges from previous years include:

  • Tall Towers: Constructing Tall Towers Using Straws, Pipe Cleaners, and Tape
  • The Rube Goldberg: Constructing a Roller Coaster
  • Water Towers & Resistance: Constructing Spaghetti Water Towers to Withstand Earthquakes
  • A Study in Span: Constructing a Bridge Using Spaghetti
  • Withstand the Wind: Constructing a Tower of Cards to Withstand Lateral Force
  • Spaghetti Structures: Designing a Structure Using Fragile Materials
  • Modular Urban Skyline Structures: Designing a Skyscraper from Shipping Containers
  • Green City: Designing an Eco-Friendly Community
  • People-Friendly Public Spaces: Redesigning Times Square
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