Friday, October 21, 2005

The Making of the Modern Architect and Engineer

As part of ARCHITECTURE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, AN INTRODUCTION, course by Antoine Picon, Harvard University.

Pfammatter U., The Making of the Modern Architect and Engineer. The Origins and Development of a Scientific and Industrially Oriented Education, Basel, Boston, Berlin, Birkhäuser, 2000, "The Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris," pp. 103-205.


After 1815 there is a strong progressing industrialization in France and the establishment of an industrial culture of education. Saint Simon had a positive view of the industrial revolution and has influenced the school culture. Alphonse Lavalee has created the Ecole Centrale in 1829 that wanted to create a new system of 'industrial sciences'. The goal was to provide basic training to generations of architects and engineers, which as a form of 'armee industrielle' would allow them to work towards social progress in all countries.France was behind England in term of industrial development (Iron Bridge 1775-1779 compared to the Ponts des Arts 1801-1803. Also bringing French and English industrial progress into line with each other primarily took place in the area of railway engineering.

Lavalee said that the school should contribute to scientific progress. The notion of industrial sciences is then established as a methodological instrument in establishing the correlation between basic theoretical subjects and practical exercises of application. The ideas of the Enlightenment were formative here in the sense that scientific and technological developments and achievements were to contribute to the general well being. The students activities adressed working processes, production and assembly procedures at the level of actual construction activity (in contrast to the polytechnical school).


- The modern industrial courses: example of visits to construction and production sites as well as of laboratory experiments which were used as modern forms of teaching and learning in the course of instruction, e.g. Perdonnet's railway engineering course.
- The course on mechanical engineering by Colladon (e.g. Construction of water turbines in mechanical engineering).
- Architectural engineering by Gourlier (civil construction or architecture).
- Architecture course by Mary as an encyclopedic compendium of the then current state of development of architectural engineering.
- Features of Architectural theory : structure was art of execution, of erecting a building, determining the site and volume, deciding the proportions and structural features. Mary presented detailed calculations of statistics for arcuated and other structures.
- Teaching and methodology: step by step process and a sequence program and building site analyzes, the establishment of spatial needs, and the view of the procedural unfolding of solutions...

The centraux of the first two generations

- Pelonceau in construction; he was engineer and architect at the same time
- Trelat in metallurgy
- Muller as constructeur and architect-engineer (successor of Mary)
- Edoux as mechanical engineer and the pioneer of the hydraulic elevator
- Eiffel (tour eiffel)
- william le baron jenney (american) and the chicago school
- Moisant as constructeur worked as an engineer and businessman in metal construction production as well as agricultural engineer.
- Contamin as one of the most famous engineer of the 19th as a mecanicien.
He created the palais des machines (or Galerie des machines) with Dudert in 1889
- the engineers of concrete: Coignet (beton agglomere)
- engineers of services and of the technical quipment of building (e.g. modern heating)
- civil public construction with for instance Henri de Dion

The life and work of Gustave Eiffel

The beginnings of Gustave Eiffel
He comes from l'ecole centrale and was more an entrepreneur than a designer. He is linked to Nepveu so started a bridge for Nepveu in Bordeau. Eiffel created his company with Seyrig who is a better designer from l'ecole centrale.

Great achievments
Viaducts by Nordling and Eiffel was in charge of constructing them, he influenced precision. He improved diagonal bracing and invented rolling devices to move the deck across the span and said that iron should reign.
The bridge on the Duoro River in Portugal is a bridge based more on intuition. Precision becomes absolutely necessary in construction.
He also constructed buildings in Paris: le bon marche, and railways.

The Garabit Viaduct in 1879 is the biggest achievement, it is more parabolic than an arc and there is articulation in the structure.

The Garabit Viaduct

Then he created the Statue of Liberty in 1884 as a gift to the US, with a reflection on the pure symbolic element (it is said that this is his mother, a not very smiling mother). He applied his bridge technic onto the statue and because the statue has a hand raised, it create dissymetry.In 1886 it was installed in New York.

The 300 meters Eiffel Tower in 1889

Artists were against the tower because Paris was with horizontal lines and said it would disfigured the city. It is a self supporting surface and he invested all his fortune in the tower. 12000 pieces, 700 engineering drawings and at the time it was huge. We enter a time of specialization ex: drawings. Organization: if one part was not very fitting, you had to bring it back so there was a high degree of accuracy. Foundation was detailed and pressure is relatively low. The most difficult part is the groun part because it has four parts to build together, so the performance is not in the high but in the base. There was problems with elevators because of the curves of the Tower so they built two stage elevators. The Eiffel Tower was the radio broadcast system for Paris and Eiffel had an apartment there.

After the Panama affair, the career of Eiffel was ruined and then he changed career and built tunnels.

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