World-Renowned Bridge Designer T.Y. Lin to Speak In Buffalo

Release Date: October 6, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Just in time for the redesign of the Peace Bridge!

Award-winning engineer T.Y. Lin, often called “the greatest structural engineer in the world,” has been internationally renowned for nearly 50 years.

His designs for functional and beautiful bridges, buildings and other public works unify Eastern and Western philosophies and aesthetic principles. As the foremost developer of pre-stressed concrete, he has used the revolutionary material to push building technology beyond existing limits, not only in bridges, but in arenas, convention facilities and other long-span structures of surpassing lightness and grace.

Lin will present three lectures in Buffalo this month, including two talks at the University at Buffalo. The schedule:

® Thursday, Oct. 16: “Creative Engineering in Bridge Design and Construction,” at noon in the Sheraton Inn Airport, 2040 Walden Ave., hosted by the Western New York chapter of the Association for Bridge Construction and Design (ABCD). Call Thomas R. Kiener, 854-3508, or John Gast, 773-1973, for information and reservations. Admission is $20 for students, $60 for ABCD members, $70 for all others and $85 the day of the lecture.

® Thursday, Oct. 16: “Interaction Between Architecture and Engineering,” at 5:30 p.m. in 105 Harriman Hall on the UB South (Main Street) Campus, as part of the fall lecture series sponsored by the UB School of Architecture and Planning. For information, call Ruth Bryant, 829-3485, ext. 120. The lecture is free and open to the public.

® Friday, Oct. 17: “Creative Engineering for Bridges and Buildings,” at 3 p.m. in Screening Room 112 in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus, a Distinguished Speaker Seminar Lecture hosted by the UB Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Urban Affairs. For information, contact Barbara Vogel, 645-2114, ext. 2400. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Lin is an American-educated civil engineer who served from 1933-46 as chief bridge engineer and chief design engineer for the Chinese Government Railways, designing more than 1,000 bridges and culverts for railroad companies. During World War II, he was in charge of ripping up the Vietnam-to-Kunming railway line and re-laying it from Kunming northwards. He also directed the demolition of the tunnels and bridges along the original route to halt invading Japanese troops.

In 1946, he returned to the U.S. to teach at his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, where he was the mainstay, and now professor emeritus, in one of the world’s leading engineering faculties. He recently was honored by UC Berkeley as its alumnus of the year.

Among his notable engineering achievements is Minnesota’s Mississippi River Bridge, whose central arch is flanked by two half-arches that give it a carefree fluidity. In Costa Rica, Lin’s Colorado River Bridge has its arch inverted into the shape of a smile. In Singapore, his work can be seen in an unusual bridge at the Safti Military Institute in Tuas. It is a 100-meter curved bridge that is hung from only one pier and seems to be suspended in the air.

He is responsible for the design of many major bridges so bold in concept that they have yet to be built. One is the proposed poetic design for the Ruck-a-Chucky Bridge in the Sierra hills, a bridge whose slender, curved 1,300-foot deck is designed to be hung from cables anchored in the surrounding mountainsides, allowing it to curve freely above the gorge of the American River.

Other spectacular Lin designs include a proposed 55-mile-long bridge across the Bering Strait and the UN-sponsored link between Spain and Morocco that involves twin 16,000 foot spans. His bold, cable-stayed design for the replacement of the east portion of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is currently one of two remaining candidates under consideration.

Lin has said he owes his success to the usual formula of a good education, good professors, good colleagues. He adds,” one unique capacity is I embody Chinese philosophical approach and deal with problems in a global manner. Basic science and technology I learned, especially from the West. I sort of put the two together.”

Among his many awards are the Howard Gold Medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers, the National Research Council’s Quarter Century Citation and the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed by the United States. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and recently received the highest award presented by the American Institute of Architecture, a rare feat for an engineer.

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