The Randy Pausch Memorial Bridge is named after the computer science professor who authored the bestselling book, “The Last Lecture.” All of the design elements were inspired by visual metaphors contained in the book. The architects designed the south side of the bridge based on the theme “The First Penguin Award.” The sidewall, which extends from the handrail to below the bridge deck, consists of two aluminum panels with cutouts of abstract shapes based on penguins and water. In-between the two panels is a continuous row of color changing LEDs along the top and bottom. The north side of the bridge has frosted glass walls and continuous white LED lighting for safety.
Pausch’s legacy was connecting computer science with the arts. It was important that the lighting design for the bridge symbolize this by combining artistry with technology. The lighting design was also inspired by visual metaphors from Pausch’s book “The Last Lecture.” Themes include Pausch’s childhood discovery of colored crayons after only using black and white ones, a simulated rocket launch for his love of outer space and Star Trek, a night to day transition as a reminder “to live each day to the fullest,” water imagery to suggest penguins jumping into water, a moving elevator inspired by “Live your Dreams” from the painted elevator in Pausch’s childhood bedroom and based on his love of Disney and the circus, a grand finale showcasing the magic of light.