The Great Vow Pedestrian Bridge is located in the center of the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts campus, connecting its eastern and western sections. The name of the bridge evokes Master Sheng Yen’s great vow of founding the school, symbolizing the act of bringing all living beings together to the Other Shore: the state of nirvana.
The bridge is narrower and lower at its ends, gradually widening and rising toward the middle. Unlike conventional bridges whose structure is hidden underneath, here the design incorporates a box girder on the side of the bridge. The box girder is slanted to enhance structural rigidity and serves as a curved wall for the bridge. Going beyond mere structural function, the box girder can be leaned on, contemplated, and appreciated by pedestrians. Also, in order to prevent damage from the resonance of pedestrian footsteps, a set of tuned mass dampers (TMD) was installed.
On the bridge, any surfaces that may come into contact with the human body are covered in Borneo ironwood, a warm-colored hardwood that weathers well. Two types of wood planks offset each other: one has the naturally hewn profile of wood bark and is installed against the girder wall for textures and patterns, while the other, with smoothly sanded surfaces, is arranged as a backdrop for the wall and also forms the rails of the steel balustrade. The design conveys the concept of the overall campus; that is, to bring out the original and pure state of entities and mind.
The Great Vow Pedestrian Bridge is 108 meters long, a number that corresponds to the 108 woes of life described in the Buddhist sutras. As they walk on the bridge enjoying the views of the mountains and ocean in the distance, people can contemplate thoughts that transcend their earthly troubles. Two large circular holes on either end of the bridge frame different views of the mountains. On one hand, it represents the practice of Buddhism: reaching the Other Shore and gaining a different vision. On the other hand, when seen from afar, the holes metaphorically represent the lucid eyes of a Buddha, silently watching all living creatures below.