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The Greatest Architectural Engineers Of All Time

The students in Dr. Clay Belcher's Introduction to Architectural Engineering course were asked to write an essay describing a great Architectural Engineer. The following are abstracts from some of those papers.



Calatrava is an architectural engineer with schooling in art, architecture and civil engineering. Almost all of his work comes through winning competitions. He won his first major North American project in Toranto by conquering a challenge to mesh modern skyscrapers with the historic remnants of 19th-century downtown. At the base, cafes and shops welcome pedestrians, keeping the old downtown feel. A tall office building is at the heart, set back from the street, utilizing the needed space. Another competion project in Lyon, France links an airport and train station. Keeping in spirit with travel, a nearly seemless birdlike sculpture forms the roof. The bridges he designs have also become world famous. Breaking tradition and symetry, his bridge designs are truly unique. Calatarva's designs are ambitious, intricate and innovative. Above all, they are for the people. To him, architectural engineering is still a form of art for the world to view. Each design is yet another experiment. His intuitive ability, or natural talent, combined with his fearlessness, has enabled Calatrava to create many of the most remarkable structures of this century.

(by Alison Beck)



Although the world has seen many talented architectural engineers over theyears, none had the innovative ability, mathematical knowledge, and therecognition that Gustave Eiffel possessed. Eiffel was the great mind behind such structures as the Eiffel Tower, The Statue of Liberty, the church of Notre Dame Des Champs and many other great buildings. He had such a great understanding of mathematics and science that he was able to calculate the distance between the rivitted holes on the Eiffel Tower to within one tenth of a millimeter. Eiffel's innovative ability blazed new paths for modern skyscrapers. His ability to organize his workers schedules to perfection and do it so economically is unprecidented to this day. No other engineer has produced such well known structures as Eiffel. The Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty alone are recognized world wide by billions of people as a representation of the respective country. Without a doubt Eiffel was a man with unheard of ability who came before his time. (by Jon Peterson)



"Bucky" Fuller was a man of many trades: engineer; architect; mathmetician; poet; teacher; and philosopher. He is best known for his invention the goedesic dome. A goedesic dome is a semi-spherical structure that uses self bracing triangles that is very sturdy. These structures are extremely light weight (a 15 foot segment weighs about 4 lbs.) and are practically indestructable. He was very concerned for humanity in many respects and took measures to help as much as he could even after his death. He won many awards recognizing his achievements and through these achievements he will live forever. (by Sara Ferris)



Quasar Khanh is an architectural engineer and a designer who is not afraid to show his creativity. One of the most famous projects in which he has participated is the Grand Arch of La Defense in the vicinity of Paris. He is currently working on a bridge in Ho Chi Minh City for which he is designing special, spiral on and off ramps. His most recent creation is a bicycle made almost entirely out of bamboo. He wants to modernize Vietnam with "progressive urban designs" and help "catapult the country into the next century." (by Tyson Heidmann)



William J. LeMessurier's structural wonders tower in the midst of the skylines of America's great cities, including Boston, New York, and Dallas. He has combined daring design with innovative structure to create a building that an airplane could literally fly through (the Boston Federal Reserve Bank) and one that rests upon seven-story stilts (Citicorp Center in downtown Manhattan). LeMessurier has been distinguished among peers, being elected to the National Academy of Engineering (1978), the highest honor in his profession. His greatest distinction, however, remains the fact that he took full responsibility for the near failure of a bracing system in the Citicorp Center tower, and put his career and reputation on the line to correct the problem. Only the greatest ARCE would sacrifice as LeMessurier did to prevent the catastrophic collapse of a building, saving lives and setting an example of positive ethical behavior. (by Lindsay Yantzi)


ROBERT MILLS (1781-1855) USA:

Mills spent most his life advancing both fields of architecture and engineering in America, while contributing many pieces of architecture we now consider works of art. The two major highlights in his career where his extension to Jefferson's University of Virginia in Charlottesville and his most famous creation, the Washington Monument in our nation's capital. This monument has been called "the noblest architectural structure in the U.S."(Rybczynski). He's also responsible for the way our nation's capital looks today, having designed several notable federal buildings including the Treasury, the Patent Office and the General Post Office. In so doing he has created a distinctively American style of public architecture. This is the reason why he is considered to be the first true native-born and native trained American architect and engineer. Mills worked throughout his life increasing his knowledge of the field because he had such a passion for what he did. He didn't care what projects he worked on as long as he was doing what he loved. He was truly one of the greatest architects and engineers. (by Brian Corry)


PETER RICE (1932-1995):

Peter Rice, born in Ireland but citizen of the world, should be considered the greatest architectural engineer because of his uncanny ability to think both as an architect and as an engineer. Rice's first aspirations were to become a priest. He later decided to pursue aeronautics, and finally settled on civil engineering. It was in this discipline that Rice found his passion for structures and the engineering that was involved with design. Throughout his career, Rice was capable of finding a creative human compassion for his designs while never abandoning the scientific roots that were his as an engineer. Rice's projects, standing around the globe as testaments to his genius, include such noteworthy designs as the Lloyds of London Building, le Centre Pompidou, and the Sydney Opera House. Additionally, Rice recently collaborated on the Kansai International Airport, an airport located on a mile-long man-made island in the Osaka Bay, Japan. In 1992 Peter Rice was awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects' Gold Medal, solidifying the case of excellence made on his behalf. (by Paul Woelk)


MARIO SALVADORI (1913 -) ITALY, works in USA:

Mario Salvadori has pioneered concepts on building systems, authoring and co-authoring many books that have paved the way for other educators to 'make competent architects and engineers'. He is said by colleagues to be "one of the great teachers of to make the most complex theories digestible in ways no one else could...[and establishing] the framework for teaching qualitatively the subject of engineering to architects." He has become a distinguished member of the architectural engineering profession, being the first engineer to receive the AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion of Excellence in Architectural Education. And lastly, he has founded the Salvadori Educational Center on Built Environment that was established to teach maths and sciences to inner city children of New York. (by Jennifer Nekuda)



Wright was an architect and an architectural engineer who strived for unprecented achievements. After his schooling at the University of Wisconsin in civil engineering, Wright began his three-quarters of a century career, creating and innovating new methods of living and working in structures. The "open home" structure is credited to Wright. In his career, Wright constucted nearly 500 buildings and had plans drawn for many more. His career marks success in architectural engineering. (by Dave Ziolkowski)

 Created December 2, 1996.


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