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Top structural engineer to speak at City during Clerkenwell Design Week

On 23rd May, engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth will give a talk on 'The Elegance of Bridges'. Running alongside the event will be an exhibition of examples of design excellence from the School of Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering.
by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)

City, University of London will host the lecture, 'The Elegance of Bridges', on May 23rd as part of a 2018 Clerkenwell Design Week Fringe Event.

It will be delivered by Ian Firth, a leading UK structural engineer and bridge designer, and takes place in B200, University Building, at 6pm.

The Fringe Event will also feature an exhibition of design excellence examples from academics and students in the School of Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering.

Aesthetic appeal

Bridges must satisfy a variety of design criteria. However, while engineers are accustomed to designing for safety, strength, stability and durability (among other considerations), many of them fail to include elegance and long-lasting aesthetic appeal into this mix.

Ian will ask whether the right education and training is available to enable engineers to tackle the elegance question effectively, and whether the industry has the appropriate procurement processes in place to deliver elegant bridges in a world which has become increasingly tolerant of mediocrity.

He says:

For too long, university education of civil and structural engineers has paid little, if any, attention to the aesthetic aspects of the things we build. It is as if the only thing that matters to a designer is selecting the right grade of material or devising a logical load path. The appearance of the structures we build matters greatly and it is vital that in educating our future designers some attention is given to the factors that lead to elegant or ugly solutions. This is not only the architect's domain, and we must equip engineers to address these important issues too.

Ian is a well-regarded bridge designer responsible for the engineering design of a number of bridges worldwide, several of which have received high profile awards. Ian joined Flint & Neill in 1979, became Partner in 1990 and now works as a Consultant following the rebrand of COWI.

His modest but technically challenging pedestrian bridges include Inner Harbour Bridge, Copenhagen; and Bridge of Aspiration, London.

Large span bridge projects include Tsing Ma, Kap Shui Mun, Ting Kau and Stonecutters' bridges in Hong Kong; assessment and strengthening of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne; and many major steel box girder structures in the UK.

Ian is Chair of IABSE British Group, sits on the Board of Directors for Bridges to Prosperity and is Chair of its UK Charitable Trust, Ian was the 2017 President of the  Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)

For free registration to this event, please visit this weblink.

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