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Who are the important shell designers


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Title: Who are the important shell designers

Who are the important shell designers?
And what were their contributions?
Important Engineers and Architects in Thin-shell
Concrete Construction
The following list focuses on designers who had
substantial influence on construction in the US.
Many European contributions, overlooked here, can
be found in the bibliographic material provided.
The contributions of the these designers will be
summarized in the following slides
Anton Tedesko a prominent engineer with Roberts
and Schaefer Company, Chicago , who promoted the
Zeiss-Dywidag system in the US.
Pier Luigi Nervi an Italian engineer/architect,
justly famous for his inventive and disciplined
concrete roof designs. Felix Candela a Mexican e
ngineer, who created many of the liveliest and
inventive designs in thin-shell concrete.
John Christiansen A Seattle structural
engineer, working for the firm of Skilling,
Helle, Christiansen, and Robertson, who designed
many prominent shell structures nationwide.
Eero Saarinen A prominent architect in the
modern movement, who often used shell structures
in his work. Amman and Whitney A structural eng
ineering firm often associated with thin-shell
concrete structures.
Anton Tedesko
(Excerpted from Anton Tedesko Thin Shells and
Esthetics, by David Billington. Journal of the
Structural Division, 108(ST11), November 1982.
Rarely can historians attribute to one person the
introduction into society of a new and widely
useful engineering idea. We have no difficulty,
however, in attributing to one structural
engineer, Anton Tedesko, the introduction of
thin-shell concrete roof structures into the
United States. Tedesko studied engineering at the
Technological Institute in Vienna, graduating in
1926 with a diploma in Civil Engineering.
Tedesko began with Dyckerhoff and Widmann in 1930
just when the firm had a remarkable group of
structural engineers developing thin-shell
concrete roof designs. In addition to Dischinger
and Finsterwalder there were Wilhelm Flügge and
Hubert Rüsch. Both became world famous for their
work in thin shells and concrete structures,
respectively. Based upon their experience with ve
ry large domes , Dyckerhoff and Widmann decided
to expand their operations abroad. Tedesko,
because of his American experience, was sent to
the United States in early 1932.
Anton Tedesko (continued)
Mr. Tedesko was responsible for many landmark
thin-shell concrete structures, including the
Hershey Sports Arena, shown below.
"The most impressive example in this country of
the thin concrete shell roof has recently been
completed in Hershey, Pa. Of barrel type, only
3-1/2-in. thick (except at the edges) and
supported by two-hinged concrete arches, the roof
covers an area 232-ft. wide by 340-ft. long
within which 7,180 bleacher seats surround a
standard 85x200-ft. ice skating floor. Known as
the Hershey Sports Arena, the new building is the
home of the Hershey Hockey Club. It is built
entirely of concrete to a design developed to
achieve both monumental appearance and permanence
at a reasonable cost."
Mr. Tedesko also designed a number of very large
utilitarian structures, such as this 300 foot
span aircraft hangar at Ellsworth AFB, Rapid
City, SD. (click here for web link to PRIDE Hanga
Anton Tedesko (conclusion)
From 1932-1934 Tedesko worked closely with
Roberts and Schaefer in Chicago, while still an
employee of Dyckerhoff and Widmann, promoting
the Z-D system. After 1934 he worked full time
with Roberts and Schaefer. The Hayden
Planetarium was the first application on which
Tedesko worked. The first major thin shell in t
he United States came in 1936 with the decision
by the Hershey Chocolate Company to build an ice
hockey arena. Up to 1941 Roberts and Schaefer d
esigned numerous industrial and civic shells as
long barrels, short barrels, and domes up to
1941, when the war effort changed the focus to
military warehouses and hangars.
Two later thin-shell roofs (St. Louis Air
Terminal and May D F Entrance Canopy)
characterize Tedeskos method of working with
well-known architects.
Bibliography Anton Tedesko, Roberts and
Schaefer, Z-D System Billington, David P. Anto
n Tedesko Thin Shells and Esthetics. Journal of
the Structural Division (ASCE) 108 (November
1982) 2539-2554. Concrete Shell Roof Used on
Worlds Fair Building, Engineering News-Record
112 (June 14, 1934) 775-776. Molke, Eric C., a
nd J. E. Kalinka. Principles of Concrete Shell
Dome Design. Journal of the American Concrete
Institute 34 (May-June 1938) 649-707.
.Elliptical Concrete Domes for Sewage Filter
s. Engineering News-Record 123 (November 9,
1939) 59-61. Pape, Paul F. Thin Concrete Shel
l Dome for New York Planetarium. Engineering
News-Record 115 (July 25, 1935) 105-109.
Remembered Anton Tedesko. Architectural Recor
d 182 (May 1994) 19. Stern, Eugene W. Spiderw
eb Concrete in Europe, Architectural Forum 55
(July 1931) 113-120. Tedesko, Anton. Shell Do
mes of Reinforced Concrete. Engineering
News-Record 116 (January 2,1936) 23.
.Large Concrete Shell Roof Covers Ice Arena.
Engineering News-Record 118 (April 8, 1937)
505-510. .Tire Factory at Natchez. Enginee
ring News-Record 123 (October 26, 1939) 67-69.
.Point-Supported Dome of Thin Shell Type. E
ngineering News-Record 123 (December 7, 1939)
85-86. .The St. Louis Air Terminal Shells.
World Conference on Shell Structures,
Proceedings, October 1-4, 1962, San Francisco.

Bibliography Anton Tedesko, Roberts and
Schaefer, Z-D System (continued)
.The St. Louis Air Terminal Shells. In Proc
eedings of the World Conference on Shell
Structures, October 1-4, 1962, San Francisco.
Publication No. 1187.Washington, D.C. National
Academy of Sciences, National Research Council,
1964. .Shells 1970History and Outlook. I
n Concrete Thin Shells. Detroit American
Concrete Institute, 1971. .How Have Concret
e Shell Structures Performed? An Engineer Looks
Back at Years of Experience with Shells. In
Bulletin of the International Association for
Shell and Spatial Structures, 1980.
Thin Concrete Shells for Domes and Barrel-Vault
Roofs, Engineering News-Record 108 (April 14,
1932) 538. 537-538 von. Dischinger der Dyck
erhoff und Widmann A. G., Wiesbaden-Biebrich,
Eisenbetonschalendacher Zeiss-Dywidag Zur
Uberdachung Weitgespannter Raume, First
International Congress for Concrete and
Reinforced Concrete, vol. 1 (Liege La Technique
Des Travaux, 1930), 262-291.
Pier Luigi Nervi   Born in Italy in 1891, Pier L
uigi Nervi graduated from the University of
Bologna in 1913 with a degree in civil
engineering. His interest in thin-shell
construction, however, focused more on aesthetic
rather than theoretical or practical issues. In
fact, he believed that intuition should be
considered as strongly as mathematics when making
design decisions. Nervi was influenced by the
ribbed and coffered domes of his homelands Roman
and Renaissance architecture. His trademark
became domed and vaulted lattices of crossed
ribs, a dramatic use of structure for aesthetic
ends. He patented a new type of movable staging
and developed innovative methods to prefabricate
and hydraulically pre-stress reinforced
concrete.   Nervis first significant design was
a 35,000-seat stadium in Florence (1930-1932),
where the structures concrete form became a
dramatic design element. In 1935, he began work
on a series of military aircraft hangars where he
refined his ideas for lattice concrete roof
structures. The Agnelli Exhibition Hall in Turin
(1948), its roof a filigree of prefabricated
concrete units and glass, is a landmark in
engineering comparable to Paxtons 1851 Crystal
Palace in London. He designed three athletic
venues for the Olympic Games in Rome in 1960,
including small and large sports arenas that
displayed his mastery of precast-concrete
tracery. Nervi preferred to practice in Italy but
did some works abroad including the UNESCO Center
in Paris (with Marcel Breuer and Bernard
Zehrfuss, 1953-1957) and the New York Port
Authority bus terminal.  
Pier Luigi Nervi (continued) In addition to hi
s architecture and engineering practice, Nervi
owned a contracting firm. He taught technology
and construction at Rome Universitys
architecture school from 1947 to 1961. Nervi died
in Rome in 1979.
Click here to see Nervis Exhibition Building,
Turin (1948-9)
Click here to see Nervis St. Marys Cathedral
(Pietro Belluschi, Architect), San Francisco, CA
Bibliography Pier Luigi Nervi
Argan, Giulio C. Pier Luigi Nervi. Milan Il Bal
cone, 1955. De Irizarry, Florita Z. Louie. Work
and Life of Pier Luigi Nervi, Architect.
Monticello, Ill. Vance Bibliographies, 1984.
Huxtable, Ada L. Pier Luigi Nervi. New York Geo
rge Braziller, 1960. Kato, Akinori, ed. Pieru R
uiji Veruvi (Pier Luigi Nervi). Translated by
Ernest Priefert. Tokyo Process Architecture
distributed in the United States by Eastview
Editions, 1981?. Nervi, Pier Luigi. Aesthetic
s and Technology in Building. Translated by
Robert Einaudi. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard
University Press, 1965. . Buildings, Project
s, Structures, 1953-1963. Translated by Guiseppe
Nicoletti. New York Praeger, 1963.
. Is Architecture Moving Towards Unchanging
Forms? In Structure in Art and Science, edited
by Gyorgy Kepes. New York George Braziller,
1965. . Scienz of arte del construire? (Is B
uilding an Art or a Science?) Rome Edizioni
della Bussolo, 1945. . Structures (Costruire
correttamente). Translated by Giuseppina and
Mario Salvadori. New York F. W. Dodge, 1956.
. The Works of Pier Luigi Nervi. New York F.
A. Praeger, 1957.
Felix Candela
Felix Candela was an extraordinarily creative and
imaginative designer of shell structures. He
lives and practiced in Mexico, but also designed
some structures in the southwestern USA. He has
combined an imaginative and creative visual
vocabulary with the development of precise and
sophisticated analytical techniques.
Shells will not result in greater freedom in
building design because it is not the so-called
functional approach to the design problem which
prevails but the formal or computational
approach. Some of the limitations are money and
the current desire of always producing something
new. As for size, the practical limit is about
100 ft. Most of the difficulties are in making a
structural analysis. We do not know enough about
the mathematical tools to analyze these
structures, and the literature does not tell us
what is important, either. There is often not
even enough time to analyze a structure before it
has to go up. For small shells, we ordinarily do
not need an exquisite solution. (Faber p. 32)
I have built shells for several years I now m
ostly build the hyperbolic paraboloid, a very
well-known shape now with very interesting
properties.(Faber pp. 33-34).
Felix Candela, continued
Usually I do not make an elastic analysis of
shells because I have learned that a statical
method was used to design old stone arches, which
were unable to take any tension. What was always
needed was that the pressure line of the forces
fall inside the nucleus of the arch. Then, if the
span is not larger than in a stone arch, there is
no need to employ any more difficult methods for
analysis. (Faber, p. 109).
Trained and employed as an architect in Madrid,
where he was born in 1910, Felix Candela fled as
a refugee to Mexico in 1939 after fighting on the
losing side in the Spanish Civil War. Within a
decade, he had established an architectural and
construction practice in Mexico City with his
brother Antonio, who also emigrated from Spain.
Although his first designs in his new homeland
were conventional, Felix soon returned to the
shell forms that had fascinated him since meeting
an innovator of concrete design, Spaniard Eduardo
Torroja, in 1934. The dramatic curved vault of
the 1951 Cosmic Rays Laboratory at University
City near Mexico City drew substantial attention
to Candela, providing an opportunity for further
experimentation with this fluid form. He topped a
garage in Anzures with a folded-slab roof (1952).
His first large-scale concrete roof, which
tapered to a thickness of only 1.5 inches at the
apex of the arches, covered a factory at Valejo
(with Carlos Recamier, 1954). He called on
paraboloid vaults for the Church of Santa Maria
Miraculosa in Mexico City (with Enrique de la
Mora, 1955) and umbrella shells for industrial
buildings at Linda Vista (1954) and Coyoacan
(1955). He covered an octagonal-plan restaurant
in Xochimilco with a scallop of shell vaults
(with Joãquim and Fernando Alvarex Ordoñex,
1958). Among his works outside of Mexico, one of
the most interesting was a plan for a
presidential palace at Havana, Cuba, in
collaboration with Josep Luis Sert (a Spaniard
who was dean of the Harvard Graduate School of
Design) unfortunately the design, finished in
1957, was never built.  Candela extended his infl
uence by teaching at the National University of
Mexico from 1953 to 1970. He lived in Chicago
from 1971 to 1978, where he practiced
architecture and served on the faculty of the
University of Illinois, Circle Campus. He died in
Bibliography Felix Candela Bushiazzo, Felix. F
elix Candela. Buenos Aires Instituto de Arte
Americano e Investigaciones Estaticas, 1961.
Cetto, Max. Modern Architecture in Mexico. New Y
ork Praeger, 1961. Candela, Felix New Archite
cture. In Maillart Papers, edited by David P.
Billington, Robert Mark, and John F. Abel.
Princeton, N.J. Publ. Department of Civil
Engineering, Princeton University, 1973.
. Shell Construction in Mexico. In Proceedi
ngs of the World Conference on Shell Structures,
October 1-4, 1962, San Francisco. Publication No.
1187.Washington, D.C. National Academy of
Sciences, National Research Council, 1964.
. Structural Applications of Hyperbolic Para
boloidal Shells. Journal of the American
Concrete Institute 26 (1955) 397-415.
Cervera, Jaime, et al. Felix Candela, in Memori
am. Arquitectura Viva 58 (January-February
1998) 72-77, 116. Faber, Colin. Candela, The
Shell Builder. New York Reinhold, 1963.
Miwa, Naomi, ed. Felix Candela. Tokyo TOTO Shup
pan, 1995?.
John Jack Christiansen
Jack Christiansen became interested in thin-shell
construction when he attended the architectural
engineering program at the University of
Illinois. After receiving his B.S. there in 1949,
he obtained a masters degree in Civil Engineering
from Northwestern University. He worked in
various engineering firms until 1962, when he
joined a company in Seattle where he rose to
become a senior partner. He retired from the
firm, then known as Skilling, Helle,
Christiansen, and Robertson, in 1983, and has
worked as a consultant since that time. In honor
of his achievements, he has been elected a Fellow
of the American Concrete Institute and the
American Society of Civil Engineers. He is a
former chair of the ASCE/ACI Joint Committee on
Concrete Shells.
Among his most notable projects were an aircraft
hangar at Larson Air Force Base, Washington, with
eight bays to hold B-52s the King County Airport
Hanger at Boeing Field in Seattle the Kingdome,
also in Seattle (demolished) the Sundome in
Yakima, Washington and the Saudi Royal Naval
Stadium in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The Church of
the Good Shepherd in Bellevue, Washington,
exemplifies the adaptability of concrete
construction this double-shell cantilevered
sanctuary has been converted into a residence.
One of his most recent projects was the design of
the Athletic Field Grandstand on Bainbridge
Island, Washington, where he resides.
John Christiansen (continued)
Thin-shell structures, he asserts, "will last
forever with reasonable care." He cites lack of
maintenance as a problem that has unreasonably
cast a cloud on thin-shell construction the saga
of the Kingdome in Seattle is a case in point.
Note you can download a video of the March 27,
2000 implosion at http//www.espn.go.com/gen/2000
or get there by clicking here
The King County Stadium (Kingdome)
He believes that architects are too quick to
adopt, and then discard, efficient structural
designs such as thin shells. That is due, in
part, to the fickleness of aesthetic trends. It
also reflects changes in construction practices.
Thin shells are most economical to produce under
a competitive bidding process. Today, buildings
are often erected fast-track and design-build,
with the project overseen by a construction
manager. This is effective for steel
construction. Thin-shell methods, however, do not
adapt well to this approach. Computer-aided
design programs, now ubiquitous in the industry,
are also more prepared to address steel rather
than thin-shell concrete.
Bibliography John Christiansen
Christiansen, John V. Shell Construction for th
e Church of the Good Shepherd. In Proceedings of
the World Conference on Shell Structures, October
1-4, 1962, San Francisco. Publication No.
1187.Washington, D.C. National Academy of
Sciences, National Research Council, 1964.
Eero Saarinen
The son of legendary architect Eliel Saarinen,
Eero was born in Finland in 1910. The family
moved to the United States in 1923. Eero was
educated at Yale University and traveled
extensively in Europe. In 1937, he moved to
Michigan to form an architectural partnership
with his father, who was involved with the
Cranbrook School near Detroit. He launched his
own firm after his fathers death in 1950.
  Eeros first significant independent commission
was the Jefferson Memorial, better known as the
Saint Louis Arch, which he won in 1948. Eero
became interested in the sculptural possibilities
of thin-shell concrete roofs one of his first
large-scale experiments with this form was Kresge
Auditorium at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology (1955). This was followed three years
later by the swoop-roofed hockey rink for his
alma mater in New Haven, Connecticut. He
transformed concrete into a visual metaphor for
flight with the shell roofs of the TWA Terminal
at Idlewild (today Kennedy) Airport in New York
(1956-1962) and the Dulles Airport Terminal near
Washington, D.C. (1964). Construction of the
latter began after Eero died of a brain tumor in
1961 at only fifty-one years of age.  
Bibliography Eero Saarinen Doumato, Lamia. The
Work of Eero Saarinen A Selected Bibliography.
Monticello, Ill. Vance Bibliographies, 1980.
Iglesia, Rafael. Eero Saarinen. Buenos Aires In
stituto de Arte Americano e Investigaciones
Estaticas, 1966. Kuhner, Robert A. Eero Saarine
n, His Life and Work. Monticello, Ill. Council
of Planning Librarians, 1975. Saarinen, Eero. E
ero Saarinen. New York Simon, 1971.
. Eero Saarinen on His Work A Selection of B
uildings Dating from 1947 to 1964 with Statements
by the Architect. Edited by Aline Saarinen. New
Haven, Conn. Yale University Press, 1968.
Saarinen, Eero, and Nobuo Hozumi. TWA Terminal B
uilding, Kennedy Airport, New York, 1956-62
Dulles International Airport (Washington D.C.),
Chantilly, Virginia, 1958-62. Edited and
photographed by Yuko Futagawa. Tokyo A. D. A.
EDITA Tokyo, 1973. Stoller, Ezra. The TWA Termi
nal. New York Princeton Architectural Press,
1999?. Temko, Allan. Eero Saarinen. New York
George Braziller, 1962.
Ammann and Whitney
Ammann and Whitney, a consulting engineer
practice based in New York, was formed in 1946 by
Othmar H. Ammann and Charles S. Whitney. Ammann
came to the United States from Switzerland, where
he was born in 1879. After graduating from the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich
with a degree in civil engineering in 1902, he
worked on various projects in Europe and,
starting in 1904, in the United States,
specializing in bridge design. His son Werner,
born in Pennsylvania in 1906, followed him into
the field, earning a civil engineering degree
from Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in 1928.
Werner gained experience with the
McClintic-Marshall Company in Chicago and the
Bethlehem Steel Company, Pennsylvania, before
serving with the Navys Civil Engineering Corps
during World War II. In 1946 he joined Ammann and
Whitney as a assistant engineer, becoming a
partner three years later. He oversaw
construction of a number of concrete designs
including the American Airlines Hangar in
Chicago, and was the supervising designer of the
Pittsburgh Civic Auditorium roof structure.  
Charles Whitney worked for Ammann during summer
breaks from the engineering program at Cornell
University. After graduating in 1915, Whitney
worked on projects in Boston, New York, and Los
Angeles, before settling in Wisconsin. In 1924,
he became a principal of the Milwaukee
engineering firm Hool, Johnson and Whitney. He
retained this affiliation and continued to live
in Milwaukee after becoming a partner with Ammann
in 1946. An expert in reinforced-concrete design,
Whitney contributed to the book Concrete
Designers Manual and received a number of awards
for his work in this area.   The combined experi
ence of Ammann and Whitney propelled their firm
to prominence in the United States and around the
world. Their skills are exemplified by the
University of Illinois Assembly Hall in Urbana
(1963), done in collaboration with the
architectural firm Harrison and Abramovitz. The
folded-plate reinforced concrete dome, spanning
400 feet, tapers to a thickness of only 3.5
Bibliography Ammann and Whitney
Amman, Othmar. Brobdingnagian Bridges. In Smit
hsonian Institution, Board of Regents. Annual
Report. Washington, D.C. Smithsonian
Institution, 1931. Hool, George A. Concrete Des
igners Manual. New York McGraw-Hill Book
Company, Inc., 1921. . Concrete Designers M
anual, Tables and Diagrams for the Design of
Reinforced Concrete Structures. 2d ed. New York
McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1926.
Rastorfer, Darl. Six Bridges The Legacy of Othm
ar H. Ammann. New Haven, Conn. Yale University
Press, 2000. Whitney, Charles S. Bridges A S
tudy in their Art. New York W. E. Rudge, 1929.
. Plastic Theory of Reinforced Concrete Desi
gn. Transactions of the American Society of
Engineers 107 (1942) 251. Whitney, Charles S.,
and E. Cohen. Guide for Ultimate Strength
Design of Reinforced Concrete. Proceedings of
the American Concrete Institute 53 (1956) 455.

National Schools Billington describes three promi
nent national schools of thin-shell concrete
construction. Each tradition encompasses several
decades and especially skilled designers, but the
types of buildings that each school created are
quite different in character. The three schools
that Billington descirbes are A German school pio
neered by Dyckerhoff and Widman, and carried
forward, particularly in the US, but Anton
Tedesko. The characteristics of the German
School are the reliance on forms amenable to
precise mathematical treatment, or
characterization by mathematical formulas solids
of revolution or of translation such as domes and
barrel vaults. There is also a reliance on large
ribs for stiffening the shell. The features of
this school are visible in the works of Anton
Tedesko, such as Hersheypark Arena or the Arch
Hangar. The Italian school was exemplified by the
work of Pier Luigi Nervi, who borrowed ancient
Roman forms, such as the arch, vault, and dome,
and re-articulated them in reinforced concrete
and ferrocement. His approach to structural
design was much more intuitive than mathematical,
and the forms he used were much less constrained
than those of the German school.
National Schools (continued) The Spanish school
represents the tradition of Gaudí, who worked
primarily in masonry, but was carried forward by
Torroja, and in North America, by Felix Candela.
This school is primarily motivated by aesthetics,
and tends to use doubly curved forms, such as the
hyperbolic paraboloid, in place of ribs. Candela
in particular used ingenious, but approximate
mathematical calculations to achieve a daring
thinness for his shell forms.
Bibliography Source Material for Biographies
Billington, David P. The Tower and the Bridge T
he New Art of Structural Engineering. Princeton,
N.J. Princeton University Press, 1983.
Dodge, Edward N., ed. Whos Who in Engineering.
8th ed. New York and West Palm Beach, Fla. Lewis
Historical Publishing Company, 1959.
. Whos Who in Engineering. 9th ed. New York
and West Palm Beach, Fla. Lewis Historical
Publishing Company, 1964. Encyclopedia of Moder
n Architecture. New York Harry N. Abrams, 1964.
Jencks, Charles. Modern Movements in Architectur
e. 2d ed. Harmondsworth, England Penguin Books,
1985. Lampugnani, Vittorio M., ed. Encyclopedia
of 20th Century Architecture. New York Harry
N. Abrams, 1986. Maddex, Diane, ed. Master Buil
ders A Guide to Famous American Architects.
Washington, D.C. Preservation Press, 1985.
Petroski, Henry. Engineers of Dreams Great Brid
ge Builders and the Spanning of America. New
York Vintage Books, 1996. Richards, J. M., ed.
Whos Who in Architecture from 1400 to the
Present. New York Holt, Rinehart and Winston,
1977.3 Scully, Vincent, Jr. Modern Architecture
The Architecture of Democracy. New York George
Braziller, 1961. Twentieth Century Engineering.
New York Museum of Modern Art, 1964.
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