The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 85 (2007) > Issues > Issue 16 > The appeal of bridge engineering
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The appeal of bridge engineering

"There can be little doubt that in many ways the story of bridge-building is the story of civilisation. By it we can readily measure an important part of a people's progress." Franklin D. Roosevelt October 18, 1931 The allure of bridges As a class of artefact, bridges occupy an important place in human history. Apart from their obvious significance in providing physical connections across obstacles, enabling the development of communities and hence civilisation itself, the frequent depiction of bridges in folklore and formal art indicates that they have also acquired a cultural significance that transcend their merely utilitarian role. Correspondingly, through the ages, the act of bridge building has been regarded with much admiration and awe, and the men who build them - from the Brotherhood of bridge builders during the Middle Ages to the likes of Brunel, Roebling and Maillart - held in considerable esteem. The process itself may have evolved from a craft based mainly on rules of thumb, and probably no small amount of luck, to an industry grounded on scientific and mathematical principles, but the story of bridge building continues to be taken as supreme examples of man’s endeavours in the conquest of nature. Kien Hoang, MA (Cantab) Buro Happold