Engineer who worked on tall buildings around world remembered
One of Canada's most influential and renown engineers died this summer. Alan G. Davenport founded the Universi...
One of Canada’s most influential and renown engineers died this summer. Alan G. Davenport founded the University of Western Ontario’s Boundary Wind Layer Tunnel in London, Ontario and pioneered the use of such laboratories and the design of wind-sensitive structures.
Dr. Davenport died on 19 July, 2009 in London of complications from Parkinson’s Disease.
Dr. Davenport worked on the design of some of the most famous engineering structures around the world, including the Word Trade Center in New York City, the Sears tower in Chicago, the Messina Straits Crossing in Italy, the Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong and the Great Belt East/Storebaelt Suspension Bridge in Denmark. In Canada he worked on Toronto’s CN Tower and Confederation Bridge in P.E.I. (the two structures were voted joint first in Canadian Consulting Engineer’s Favourite Engineering Projects contest held for our 50th anniversary issue in June-July).
According to an article in Western News, the University of Western Ontario’s publication, Davenport’s skills on these and other projects, “catapulted the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory into international fame.” Professor Hesham El Naggar from the faculty of engineering, said “he was the best wind engineer in the world, working on some of the top landmarks worldwide. Western has become the Mecca of wind engineering and has earned a strong international reputation because of what he has accomplished here.”
The wind tunnel laboratory was founded in 1964, with a second generation tunnel being built in 1984. The BLWT II is 64 metres long and 15 metres wide, with high speed, low speed and water channel sections.
A member of the Order of Canada, Dr. Davenport was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institute of Structure Engineers based in the U.K. in 1987. He was also a founding member of the Western University-based Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, an institution aimed at reducing loss caused by severe weather and earthquakes.
The group of researchers that now works at the Boundary Wind Layer Tunnel has chosen to call itself the Alan G. Davenport Wind Engineering Group.
Dr. Davenport was born in Madras, India, attended Cambridge University, and flew for the Canadian Navy.
He later joined the National Research Council of Canada to work on building design codes, and then earned a Ph.D at eh University of Bristol in England studying the effects of wind on long bridges and tall buildings.
He was a member of the jury for the Canadian Consulting Engineering awards in 2003.