David P. Billington on Swiss Engineers

David Billington was a renown academic who coined the term “structural art”. A prominent scholar of Princeton University, a structural engineer and educator who taught generations after generations of engineers and transfused his passion for structures to students from 1958, when he joined Princeton as faculty, until his death, in 2018.

His investigations, research and passion on structural feats and history, resulted in a number of books throughout his career, some on the Swiss pioneers of concrete and thin shell design.

MIT has made available online David Billington’s lecture that was given at the opening of the exhibition on the Art of Structural Design and the Swiss structural masters, in 2004.

As it happens with all great and true Teachers (“T” capital purposedly) Prof. David Billington, during his talk,  credits the students that “taught him the structural principles” of the superb models they created for this exhibition and sprinkles his talk with humour, providing subtle lessons for the non-technical audience, while teaching engineering ethos.

If you love engineering and architecture I would strongly recommend devoting 1 hour, 15 mins and 34 seconds of your life to watch this inspiring lecture, of this great Engineer who sadly passed away on 25 March 2018…




1. Professor Ignacio Payá-Zaforteza & Professor Maria E. Moreyra Garlock
(2019) Eminent Structural Engineer: David P. Billington (1927–2018). Inspiring Generations
Through the Integration of Engineering and Art, Structural Engineering International, 29:1, 175-178.DOI: 10.1080/10168664.2018.1528851 (https://doi.org/10.1080/10168664.2018.1528851)

2. Prof. Billington’s photo from the paper above, taken by Rene Motro.

3. edX Princeton MOOC Course: The Art of Structural Engineering: Vaults, Feb.-Mar. 2019

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