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Wind engineering as a named specialty within engineering is a little over 50 years old, and yet draws from a much older tradition dating to ancient times as structures struggled to resist one of nature’s most destructive forces.
‘Kit’ Scruton played a role in the evolution of wind engineering from pragmatic provider of wind loading data to ‘prophetic’ predictor of structural response of increasingly complex structures in increasingly chaotic flows. Scruton’s and more recent contributions to this ‘evolution’ will be discussed, with emphasis on the ‘design’ wind storm evolving to encompass the dynamics of thunderstorm and tornadic flows.
As our understanding of wind flow has matured, structural form has also evolved and using nature for inspiration, efficient building forms to resist wind actions are being studied and proposed as potential solutions to the planet’s rapid urbanization. The Saguaro cactus will be presented as one model for wind-resistant tall buildings.
Head, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA
Chris Letchford obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering with First Class Honours and University Medal from the University of Queensland in 1980. He was the inaugural winner of the Ove Arup Scholarship and worked for two years in the London Office of Ove Arup and Partners, Consulting Engineers. There he worked on the designs for the Britannia Leisure Centre, the Old Vic Theatre refurbishment, and the Menil Collection Museum in Houston under Peter Rice and Renzo Piano. He also spent 9 months as Resident Engineer.
After completing a doctorate in Wind Engineering at Oxford University as a Commonwealth Scholar he began his academic career at the University of Queensland in 1987. After developing a research program in Wind Engineering and Bluff Body Aerodynamics and reaching the level of Reader, Chris left Queensland to take up a Professorship at Texas Tech University in the US. During 8 years in the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, he helped manage an annual research budget in excess of US$1million and developed several innovative simulators for thunderstorm downburst and tornado winds.
In 1997 Chris chaired the 4th Asia-Pacific Symposium on Wind Engineering on the Gold Coast and in 2003 he chaired the Technical and Scientific Committees of the 11th International Conference on Wind Engineering in Lubbock Texas. From 1995-1999 and 2007-2009 Chris was the Chair of the Australasian Wind Engineering Society (AWES). From 2003-2006 Chris was a member of the Executive of the American Association of Wind Engineering.
In 2007 Chris was elected as the Asia-Pacific Representative of the International Association of Wind Engineering. Chris is also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and sits on the Wind Effects, Aerodynamics and Tall buildings Committees. Chris is a Registered Professional Engineer in Queensland and a Chartered Professional Engineer in Australia.
Chris left Texas Tech University as Senior Associate Dean to take up the Head of School of Engineering at the University of Tasmania in 2007. In 2011, Chris accepted the Head of Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.