Day 266/365 of Steel – Fritz Leonhardt

The Pelé of cable-stayed bridges.

For those who have followed my trip through steel wonderland, it will not be a surprise that I’ve dedicated equal space and time to both architects and engineers when it comes to the use of steel in buildings and civil engineering.

The most beautiful projects are those where architect and engineer work closely together with mutual respect. Aesthetics and technical feasibility can go hand in hand as long as both aspects are dealt with by people who understand the importance of balance between those two aspects.

Aerial Photography of the "Rodenkirchener Brücke" bridge over the river Rhine in Cologne, Germany
Fig 1: Aerial Photography of the “Rodenkirchener Brücke” bridge over the river Rhine in Cologne, Germany

Fritz Leonhardt (12 July 1909 – 30 December 1999) was a German structural engineer who made major contributions to 20th-century bridge engineering, especially in the development of cable-stayed bridges. His book Bridges: Aesthetics and Design is well known throughout the bridge engineering community.

Born in Stuttgart in 1909, Leonhardt studied at Stuttgart University and Purdue University. In 1938, he was appointed at the remarkably young age of 38 as the Chief Engineer for the Cologne-Rodenkirchen Bridge.

Rodenkirchener Autobahnbrücke
Fig 2: Rodenkirchener Autobahnbrücke
Photo: ZH

In 1954 he formed the consulting firm Leonhardt, Andrä und Partners (LAP), and from 1958 to 1974 taught the design of reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete at Stuttgart University. He was President of the University from 1967 to 1969.

He received Honorary Doctorates from six universities, honorary membership of several important engineering universities, and won a number of prizes including the Werner von Siemens Ring, the Freyssinet Medal of the FIP, and the Gold Medal of the Institution of Structural Engineers.

Severinsbrücke in Köln
Fig 3: Severinsbrücke in Köln
Photo: Rolf Heinrich, Köln

Throughout his career, Leonhardt was as dedicated to research as to design. Starting in 1955 with the design of the North Bridge across the Rhine River in Düsseldorf, Leonhardt and LAP have worked on more than 140 bridges of cable-stayed bridges all over the world.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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