Sydney Opera House receives world’s highest civil engineering recognition

Nutt pioneered the use of computers in engineering practice, worked on the design and analysis of the roof of the Sydney Opera House, and oversaw the construction and completion of the building.

In Building a masterpiece: the Sydney Opera HouseNutt explained the problem. “The shells converged on points at the supports, concentrating the forces in an undesirable way,” he wrote.

“The ridges had strong surface discontinuities. Bends near the plinths caused huge problems that weren’t resolved until late in the design. Each shell had to be connected to its neighbor to ensure overall stability.

The Sydney Opera House involved the world’s first example of epoxy joining of matched concrete segments. He also used an erection arch for roof construction which was the most complex piece of scaffolding used in the construction industry in Australia at that time. The project also pioneered the manufacture and factory assembly of large precast concrete units of complex geometry.

Nutt called it a “magnificent tribute to the collaboration of architect and engineer, to art and technology”.

Inspire the next generation of engineers

Johnson looks forward to seeing the next generation learn and be inspired by the incredible engineering of the Sydney Opera House. It highlights the Create a creative lab organized by Western Sydney University which allows 40 students to explore the architecture, engineering and design of the Sydney Opera House in an immersive experience.

“Michael Elfick, John Kuner and Wilf Deck are among the engineers who worked with Ove Arup, the project’s design engineer over 50 years ago, and will be involved in construction,” Johnson said.

Engineers Australia’s Engineering Heritage Recognition Program has recognized over 260 engineering and industrial heritage sites in Australia. Works that have significance beyond Australia are recognized as international markers of engineering heritage, and the Sydney Opera House joins other works of international significance in this category, such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

It is fitting that the building which pioneered the use of computers in its design receives the first ever digital plaques – one from ASCE and one from Engineers Australia. Additionally, a metal plaque would not comply with the Opera House Trust’s conservation management plan. And, as Moloney noted, “the House has enough nails in the wall.”