Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in Create Account

The Art of Structural Design: A Swiss Legacy

09/17/2004 6:00 PM 10-250
David P. Billington, Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering; Princeton University;

Description: Bridges serve a utilitarian purpose, but they should also please the eye. David P. Billington celebrates an influential group of Swiss structural engineers who forged a tradition of bridge-building in the 20th century that united form and function with unprecedented grace. His lecture describes the offerings of an exhibit at the MIT Museum that showcases the works of Robert Maillart (1872-1940), Othmar Ammann (1879-1965), Heinz Isler (b. 1926), and Christian Menn (b. 1927). These architects, inspired by masterful teachers of the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, first honed their exacting designs in the rugged mountains of Switzerland, and then branched out to the rest of the world. Billington describes Maillart's iconic, 1930 Salginatobel Bridge, high in the Alps, which improves on old Roman bridge designs using a 3-hinged arch and reinforced concrete. He toasts Ammann's Verrazzano Narrows and George Washington Bridges as well as Menn's very recent Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston, the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Billington believes these are structures that will "outlast all our lives, enrich the environment and not desecrate it."

About the Speaker(s): David P. Billington has written several books on Robert Maillart's work as well as on other aspects of structural engineering. Billington was a Fulbright Fellow, and won the 1992 George Winter Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He has consulted for the State of Maryland on bridge design and for the State of New Jersey on highway accidents. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineering, among other professional affiliations. He has taught at Princeton since 1960.

Host(s): Office of the Provost, MIT Museum

Tape #: T18957

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated 11 months ago

December 12, 2011 19:18
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files

3034 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

Perspectives on the Unfolding Spill: Evidence of the Environmental Impacts of the Event

Perspectives on the Unfolding Spill...

Added almost 4 years ago | 01:02:00 | 8166 views

Focus on Educational Innovation

Focus on Educational Innovation

Added almost 4 years ago | 01:56:00 | 2421 views

J.H. Keenan's Contribution to Thermodynamics

J.H. Keenan's Contribution to Therm...

Added almost 4 years ago | 00:55:24 | 3546 views

Transportation in Contemporary Society: A Complex Systems Approach

Transportation in Contemporary Soci...

Added almost 4 years ago | 01:05:00 | 5671 views

The Future of Science Journalism

The Future of Science Journalism

Added almost 4 years ago | 01:42:00 | 5233 views

Cancer Research in the Genomic Era

Cancer Research in the Genomic Era

Added almost 4 years ago | 01:01:00 | 2663 views