Isambard Kingdom Brunel

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Works Clifton Suspension Bridge, at Bristol, England, 1836 to 1864.  * 3D Model *
Paddington Station, at London, England, UK, 1852 to 1854.
Temple Meads Station, at Bristol, England, UK, 1839 to 1840.

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel

(b. Portsmouth, England in 1806; d. 1859)

The son of an engineer (Marc Isambard Brunel), Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in Portsmouth, England in 1806. He studied in France where he developed an appreciation for the architecture of the Grand Siecle. He entered his father's office in 1822 and apprenticed with his father on the early stages of the construction for the Thames Tunnel. Although he quickly advanced to the position of engineer in charge, his apprenticeship ended when the river broke through the tunneling shield.

While recovering from the tunnel accident, Brunel entered a competition for the bridge over the Avon Gorge at Clifton. Although he won this commission in 1831, construction was not completed until after his death. In 1833, Brunel was appointed chief engineer of the new Great Western Railway. In this position, Brunel came to pioneer several strength tests and preservation methods.

Brunel generated imaginative and confident designs for everything from tunnels, railways and bridges to harbors, prefabricated buildings and ships. He confidently readopted contemporary concepts of efficiency and beauty in order to meet the challenge of the new technology. He was particularly instrumental in expanding use of iron.

Throughout his career Brunel made an effort to seek out new technologies and anticipate developing markets. He used fundamental logic and analysis to reshape the mechanical and structural engineering of his time. In doing so, he helped reshape the art and technology of architecture.

Brunel died in 1859.

Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 1-4. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25.

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