Robert Maillart

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Robert Maillart

(b. Berne, Switzerland 1872; d. 1940)

Robert Maillart was born in Berne, Switzerland in 1872. After he received his civil engineering degree from the Federal Polytechnical Institute in Zurich in 1894, he worked for a series of Swiss engineers. He established his own design-construction firm in 1902. He moved the firm to Russia in 1912 but it collapsed during the Russian Revolution in 1917. Upon his return to Switzerland, Maillart worked with Lucien Meisser and Ernst Stettler as a consulting engineer.

Between 1910 and 1912 Maillart entered five major bridge competitions. Although juries usually preferred the more conventional bridges to his, Maillart actually built three bridges based on the quality and competitive pricing of his works. Immediately following this period, he taught for several years as a private teacher at the Zurich Federal Polytechnical Institute.

Primarily an engineer, Maillart gained notoriety through his innovative bridge designs. Maillart utilized the structural strength and expressive potential of reinforced concrete to generate a modern form for his bridges. To avoid structural beams and arches, he established a structural form based on both flat and curved concrete slabs reinforced with steel.

Using very simple construction concepts, Maillart produced some of the most beautiful structures of the twentieth century. Maillart's major new forms, the open three-hinged, hollow-box arch, the mushroom slab, and the deck-stiffened arch illustrate at least three of the fundamentally radical ideas he expressed about twentieth-century structures.

Dennis Sharp. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Architects and Architecture. New York: Quatro Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-2539-X. NA40.I45. p 102-103.

Adolf K Placzek. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects. Vol. 3. London: The Free Press, 1982. ISBN 0-02-925000-5. NA40.M25. p84-85.

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