Wilhelm Ritter: Teacher of Maillart and Ammann
David P. Billington
|Issue:||Journal of the Structural Division (ASCE)", May 1980, v. 106|
This paper seeks to make the contemporary structural engineering profession aware of a 19th century tradtition of education which has been almost lost. That educational tradition possessed ideas which do not go out fo date and which can stimulate a healthy review of present research and teaching in structural engineering. A good case can be made for the judgment that the two greatest bridge designers of the 20th century were Robert Maillart (1872-1940) using concrete and Othmar Ammann (1879-1965) using steel. It is a remarkable fact that both had the same Swiss educational background and even the same professor for bridge design: Wilhelm Ritter (1847-1906). Because it seems correct to credit Ritter with direct influence, the substance of this present paper is to characerize that influence by briefly sketching first the engineering tradtion within which Ritter studied, second his own career as a teacher and researche in bridge engineering, and finally the ideas central to Ritter's vision of bridge design.