Othmar Ammann

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Othmar Ammann
Williams - Buste Othmar Ammann 1961 Ki 00001-01.jpg
Othmar Ammann (ETH Zurich)
BornMarch 26, 1879 [1]
Feuerthalen, Switzerland
DiedSeptember 22, 1965(1965-09-22) (aged 86) [2]
NationalitySwiss
EducationETH Zurich
Occupation bridge designer
Known for George Washington Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and Bayonne Bridge
Home townSchaffhausen, Switzerland

Othmar Hermann Ammann (March 26, 1879 – September 22, 1965) was a Swiss-American civil engineer whose bridge designs include the George Washington Bridge, Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge. [1] [2] He also directed the planning and construction of the Lincoln Tunnel. [3]

Contents

Biography

Bust in George Washington Bridge bus station Othmarbust.JPG
Bust in George Washington Bridge bus station

Othmar Ammann was born near Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1879. His father was a manufacturer and his mother was a hat maker. He received his engineering education at the Polytechnikum in Zürich, Switzerland. He studied with Swiss engineer Wilhelm Ritter. In 1904, he emigrated to the United States, spending much of his career working in New York City. He became a naturalized citizen in 1924.

In 1905 he briefly returned to Switzerland to marry Lilly Selma Wehrli. Together they had three children  Werner, George, and Margot before she died in 1933. He then married Klary Vogt Noetzli, herself recently widowed, in 1935 in California. [1]

Ammann wrote two reports about bridge collapses, the collapse of the Quebec Bridge and the collapse of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Galloping Gertie). It was the report that he wrote about the failure of the Quebec Bridge in 1907 that first earned him recognition in the field of bridge design engineering. Because of this report, he was able to obtain a position working for Gustav Lindenthal on the Hell Gate Bridge. By 1925, he had been appointed bridge engineer to the Port of New York Authority. His design for a bridge over the Hudson River was accepted over one developed by his mentor, Lindenthal. (Lindenthal's "North River Bridge" designs show an enormous, 16+ lane bridge that would have accommodated pedestrians, freight trains, rapid transit, and automobile traffic. The bridge, which would have entered Manhattan at 57th Street, was rejected in favor of Ammann's designs primarily due to cost reasons.)

Ultimately, this became the George Washington Bridge. Under Ammann's direction, it was completed six months ahead of schedule for less than the original $60 million budget. Ammann's designs for the George Washington Bridge, and, later, the Bayonne Bridge, caught the attention of master builder Robert Moses, who drafted Ammann into his service. The last four of Ammann's six New York City bridges — Triborough, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck, and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge were all built for Moses' Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. In 1946, Ammann and Charles Whitney founded the firm Ammann & Whitney. In 1964, Ammann opened the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York, that had the world's longest suspended span of 4,260 feet (1,300 m), and was the world's heaviest suspension bridge of its time. The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is currently the eleventh-longest span in the world and longest in the Western Hemisphere. Ammann also assisted in the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, currently ranked twelfth.

Works

Ammann designed more than half of the eleven bridges that connect New York City to the rest of the United States. His talent and ingenuity helped him create the two longest suspension bridges of his time. Ammann was known for being able to create bridges that were light and inexpensive, yet they were still simple and beautiful. He was able to do this by using the deflection theory. He believed that the weight per foot of the span and the cables would provide enough stiffness so that the bridge would not need any stiffening trusses. This made him popular during the depression era when being able to reduce the cost was crucial. Famous bridges by Ammann include the following:

The George Washington Bridge was originally designed to have its steel structure clad in dressed stone, omitted from the final design due to cost constraints stemming from the Great Depression. Ammann's managerial skills saw the bridge completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

The arched Bayonne Bridge is the only Othmar design that is not a suspension bridge.

The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge had to be reinforced after only one year of operation because of perceptible movement during high winds. Warren trusses were initially implemented to stiffen the bridge, spoiling its classic streamlined looks. They have been removed and the wind problem solved using triangular shaped lightweight fiberglass aerodynamic fairing along both sides that slices the wind as it passes over the bridge. [4]

In addition to his work on bridges, Ammann also directed the planning and construction of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Legacy

Through his career, Ammann was the recipient of several awards, including the Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize (1919), the Metropolitan Section Civil Engineer of the Year (1958), the Ernest E. Howard Award (1960) and the National Medal of Science (1964). [5] [6] [7] [8]

In 1962, a bronze bust of Ammann was unveiled in the lobby of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. [1] [9] A residence hall called Ammann College was dedicated in his honor on February 18, 1968 on the campus of Stony Brook University. [10] To mark the hundredth anniversary of his birth, a memorial plaque for Ammann was placed near the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge on June 28, 1979. [11]

Related Research Articles

George Washington Bridge Suspension bridge crossing the Hudson River between Fort Lee, New Jersey and Manhattan, New York

The George Washington Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River, connecting the New York City borough of Manhattan with the New Jersey borough of Fort Lee. The bridge is named after George Washington, the first president of the United States. The George Washington Bridge is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge, carrying over 103 million vehicles per year in 2016. It is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a bi-state government agency that operates infrastructure in the Port of New York and New Jersey. The George Washington Bridge is also informally known as the GW Bridge, the GWB, the GW, or the George, and was known as the Fort Lee Bridge or Hudson River Bridge during construction.

Throgs Neck Bridge Suspension bridge crossing the East River between Queens and the Bronx, New York

The Throgs Neck Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City, carrying six lanes of Interstate 295 (I-295) over the East River where it meets the Long Island Sound. The bridge connects the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx with the Bay Terrace section of Queens.

Triborough Bridge Bridges connecting Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx, New York

The Triborough Bridge is a complex of bridges and elevated expressway viaducts in New York City. The bridges link the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The viaducts cross Randalls and Wards Islands, which were previously two islands but are now joined by landfill.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Suspension bridge crossing the Narrows between Brooklyn and Staten Island, New York

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, connecting the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. It spans the Narrows, a body of water linking the relatively enclosed Upper New York Bay with Lower New York Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and is the only fixed crossing of the Narrows. The double-deck bridge carries 13 lanes of Interstate 278, with seven lanes on the upper level and six on the lower level. The span is named for Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first documented European explorer to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River in 1524.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940) suspension bridge that collapsed in 1940

The 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, was a suspension bridge in the U.S. state of Washington that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula. It opened to traffic on July 1, 1940, and dramatically collapsed into Puget Sound on November 7 the same year. The bridge's collapse has been described as "spectacular" and in subsequent decades "has attracted the attention of engineers, physicists, and mathematicians". Throughout its short existence, it was the world's third-longest suspension bridge by main span, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.

Interstate 278 (I-278) is an auxiliary Interstate Highway in New Jersey and New York in the United States. The road runs 35.62 miles (57.32 km) from U.S. Route 1/9 (US 1/9) in Linden, New Jersey, to the Bruckner Interchange in the New York City borough of the Bronx. The majority of I-278 is in New York City, where it serves as a partial beltway and passes through all five of the city's boroughs. I-278 follows several freeways, including the Union Freeway in Union County, New Jersey; the Staten Island Expressway (SIE) across Staten Island; the Gowanus Expressway in southern Brooklyn; the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway (BQE) across northern Brooklyn and Queens; a small part of the Grand Central Parkway in Queens; and a part of the Bruckner Expressway in the Bronx. I-278 also crosses multiple bridges, including the Goethals, Verrazzano-Narrows, Kosciuszko, and Triborough Bridges.

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), doing business as MTA Bridges and Tunnels, is an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that operates seven toll bridges and two tunnels in New York City. In terms of traffic volume, it is the largest bridge and tunnel toll agency in the United States, serving more than a million people each day and generating more than $1.9 billion in toll revenue annually as of 2017. As of 2018, its budget was $596 million, funded through taxes and fees.

Bayonne Bridge Arch bridge connecting Staten Island, NY with Bayonne, NJ

The Bayonne Bridge is an arch bridge spanning the Kill Van Kull connecting Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York City. It carries New York State Route 440 (NY 440) and New Jersey Route 440. It is the fifth-longest steel arch bridge in the world, and was the longest in the world at the time of its completion. The bridge is also one of four connecting New Jersey with Staten Island; the other two roadway bridges are the Goethals Bridge in Elizabeth and Outerbridge Crossing in Perth Amboy, and the rail-only span is the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge, all of which cross the Arthur Kill.

Bronx–Whitestone Bridge Suspension bridge crossing the East River between Queens and the Bronx, New York

The Bronx–Whitestone Bridge is a suspension bridge in New York City, carrying six lanes of Interstate 678 over the East River. The bridge connects Throggs Neck and Ferry Point Park in the Bronx, on the East River's northern shore, with the Whitestone neighborhood of Queens on the southern shore.

Cross Bronx Expressway road

The Cross Bronx Expressway is a major freeway in the New York City borough of the Bronx. It is mainly designated as part of Interstate 95 (I-95), but also includes portions of I-295 and U.S. Route 1 (US 1). The Cross Bronx begins at the Alexander Hamilton Bridge over the Harlem River, where the Trans-Manhattan Expressway continues west across Upper Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge. While I-95 leaves at the Bruckner Interchange in Throgs Neck, following the Bruckner Expressway and New England Thruway to Connecticut, the Cross Bronx Expressway Extension continues east, carrying I-295 to the merge with the Throgs Neck Expressway near the Throgs Neck Bridge. Though the road goes primarily northwest-to-southeast, the nominal directions of all route numbers west of the Bruckner Interchange are aligned with the northbound route number going southeast, and the southbound route number going northwest.

David B. Steinman American civil engineer

David Barnard Steinman was an American civil engineer. He was the designer of the Mackinac Bridge and many other notable bridges, and a published author. He grew up in New York City's lower Manhattan, and lived with the ambition of making his mark on the Brooklyn Bridge that he lived under. In 1906 he earned a bachelor's degree from City College and in 1909, a Master of Arts from Columbia University and a Doctorate in 1911. He also received an honorary Doctor of Science in Engineering on 15 April 1952 from degree mill Sequoia University, but would distance himself from it after the 1957 inquiry and not include it in his biographies. He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Louis E. Levy Medal in 1957.

Randalls and Wards Islands conjoined islands in Manhattan, New York City

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Gustav Lindenthal American civil engineer

Gustav Lindenthal was a civil engineer who designed the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City, among other bridges. Lindenthal's work was greatly affected by his pursuit for perfection and his love of art. His structures not only serve the purpose they were designed for, but are aesthetically pleasing to the public eye. Having received little formal education and no degree in civil engineering, Lindenthal based his work on his prior experience and techniques used by other engineers of the time.

Wards Island Bridge bridge in Manhattan, New York

The Wards Island Bridge, also known as the 103rd Street Footbridge, is a pedestrian bridge crossing the Harlem River between Manhattan Island and Wards Island in New York City. The vertical lift bridge has a total of twelve spans consisting of steel towers and girders. It carries only pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

The 125th Street Hudson River bridge was a proposed bridge across the Hudson River between 125th Street in Manhattan, New York City and Cliffside Park or Fort Lee in New Jersey. It was never built.

Ammann & Whitney was a full-service architecture and engineering firm that provided design and construction services for public and private sector projects. The firm provided new construction, renovations, adaptive reuse, historic preservation, interior design and sustainable design.

Madigan-Hyland was an American engineering firm active in the New York City area, named for founders Michael J. ("Jack") Madigan and Richard V. Hyland. Their offices were located in Long Island City.

Leopold Just was a Latvian-born engineer who came to New York City in 1921, and eventually became a partner in the Ammann & Whitney firm of consulting engineers. He was involved in the design of many major New York City bridges, including parts of the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, the Throgs Neck Bridge linking the Bronx and Queens and, most notably, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge linking Staten Island with Brooklyn. His work outside of New York City included the Washington Metro, Ohio Turnpike and Connecticut Turnpike. He earned a degree in civil engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn in 1929, and died at age 95.

Montgomery Babcock Case was an American civil engineer and esteemed bridge builder. He is associated with the development of 14 bridges. As of 2018, they cumulatively transit over 400 million vehicles per year.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Master Bridge Builder; Othmar Hermann Ammann". The New York Times. August 29, 1962. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Othmar Ammann, Engineer, Is Dead". The New York Times. September 24, 1965. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  3. Frazier, Ian (November 13, 2007) Revamping the Bayonne Bridge to make space for megaships. The New Yorker .
  4. "A New Look for a Classic Bridge". MTA Bridges & Tunnels. October 24, 2003. Archived from the original on March 5, 2009. Retrieved November 3, 2007.
  5. "Thomas Fitch Rowland Prize Past Award Winners". American Society of Civil Engineers. Archived from the original on December 11, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  6. "Metropolitan Section Civil Engineer of the Year Award". ASCE Metropolitan Section. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  7. "Engineer Is Cited; Othmar Ammann to Be Feted for Lincoln Tunnel Work". The New York Times. July 24, 1960. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  8. "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details". National Science Foundation. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  9. Rockland, Michael Aaron (2008). The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel . New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p.  89. ISBN   0-8135-4375-4 . Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  10. "Building Bridges to the Future". Stony Brook University. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved October 7, 2011.
  11. "Othmar H. Ammann Memorial Plaque". ASCE Metropolitan Section. Retrieved November 12, 2016.

Further reading