Our 2015 Gold Medallist: Mike Schlaich

Mike Schlaich, Managing Director of schlaich bergermann und partner and Professor of Structural Engineering at Technische Universität Berlin, was awarded our 2015 Gold Medal. 

Mike’s award-winning career has brought him in touch with architects like Frank Gehry, the offices of Richard Rogers and Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, engineers like Ted Happold and Fazlur Khan, and even with the artist Christo on the remarkable Mastaba project - which if built will be the largest sculpture in the world- a pyramid of over 400,000 oil barrels in Dubai.

A specialist in lightweight structures, Mike is a firm believer in a holistic, conceptual design approach, and in engineers’ responsibility to contribute more to “baukultur” - that is the concept of producing quality structures to improve quality of life.
He also has an enduring interest in creating free, clean, renewable energy by developing solar thermal powerplants in the North African desert.

Examples of his remarkable designs can be seen around the world, from the Christian Garden in Berlin, to the Ting Kau cable-stayed bridge in Hong Kong and presently the new Yamuna cable-stayed bridge in New Delhi, India. All the projects reflect his belief that engineering should always strive to be elegant.

He has received numerous Awards, including the Deutscher Brückenbau Preis, The Balthasar-Neumann-Preis and The Deutscher Ingenierbaupreis. He is also the author of numerous publications, including Footbridges, (Birkhäuser Verlag).

Tim Ibell, 2015 President of The Institution of Structural Engineers, said:

"The Institution was proud to present Mike Schlaich with the 2015 Gold Medal, recognising his wonderful work across both academia and industry, including his remarkable accomplishments in the field of lightweight structures and the elegant use of concrete, plus his very well-known and widely respected engineering publications on footbridges."

Mike said:

“Receiving the Gold Medal is a wonderful honour. When I think of the award’s previous winners, many of them my heroes, it makes me blush. My father, Jörg Schlaich, received the Award 25 years ago and it is very special indeed to join him and the other illustrious Gold Medal winners of the past.”

Watch Mike's 2015 Gold Medal Address.

Discover Mike's work:

Wolfsburg Pringle, Germany

A car service pavilion with a canopy shaped like a giant Pringle potato crisp in Wolfsburg, northern Germany; the structure is part of a 15,000-square-metre driving space for visitors to the Volkswagen car plant.

Anchored to the adjacent service centre and a small hill opposite by just two points, the suspended roof features a double-curved frame of welded steel plates and a frame of steel wire ropes that criss-cross underneath.

Ting Kau Bridge, Hong Kong

A 1,177-metre (3,862 ft) long cable-stayed bridge completed in 1998, the bridge is part of Route 3, connecting Northwest New Territories with Hong Kong Island. The design of this bridge contains special features such as single leg towers, which are stabilised by transverse cables like the masts of a sailboat. (Image by Arun, Wikimedia Commons)

Berlin Pergola (Christian Garden), Germany

For the design of the pergola the landscape architects were looking for a minimal load bearing structure that would integrate the letters of Christian quotes on the walls and ceilings. The result was a spatial frame structure made of aluminum castings, in which the envelope and letters create the load bearing unit. The individual casting segments are connected through welds, screws, and bolts.

Other resources:

Watch Mike's 2015 Gold Medal Address.

Mike discusses Carbon Fibre Stress-Ribbon Bridge, Berlin - a bridge equipped with sensors and artificial muscles - an "intelligent bridge".

For more information on Mike's amazing work visit his firm's website.

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