Edoardo Benvenuto

Biographical Information

Name: Edoardo Benvenuto
Born on 11 December 1940 in , Genova, Liguria, Italy, Europe
Deceased on 27 November 1998 in , Genova, Liguria, Italy, Europe

Short biography of Edoardo Benvenuto

After completing his education at the humanistic grammar school (maturità classica) in 1958, Edoardo Benvenuto went on to study piano at the Paganini Conservatorium. After successful completion of those studies, he switched to engineering and in 1965 graduated in civil engineering at the University of Genoa. From 1965 to 1974 Benvenuto worked on urban planning studies at the Istituto Ligure Ricerche Economiche e Sociali (ILRES). It was during this period that he began his outstanding academic career at the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Genoa: 1969–75 lectures on bridge-building, 1970 teaching certificate for structural dynamics and afterwards, until 1975, visiting professor of structural mechanics. In 1975 he was appointed to the chair of structural mechanics at the newly founded Faculty of Architecture in Genoa, on which he had a profound influence and managed extremely successfully during his years as dean from 1979 to 1997. His teaching experience and research work into the history of structural mechanics formed the basis for his 900-page monograph entitled La Scienza delle Costruzioni e il suo sviluppo storico, which was published in 1981. He thus became the founder of this branch of scientific history. Together with S. Di Pasquale and A. Giuffrè, Benvenuto initiated a research programme into the history of building theory and construction engineering, the results of which were intrinsic to a twovolume work published in 1991: An Introduction to the History of Structural Mechanics, which prompted that congenial spirit of rational mechanics C. A. Truesdell to write in his introduction: “This book is one of the finest I have ever read. To write a foreword for it is an honor, difficult to accept” [Benvenuto, 1991/1, p. VII]. And it is worth noting here that the Italian original dating from 1981 (reprinted in 2006) deals with the subject in considerably more detail. At the Faculty of Architecture in Genoa, Benvenuto became the spiritus rector of a course of study in which architecture and structural mechanics were integrated in an unprecedented creative symbiosis – clearly devoted to the retention of historical structures in the urban context. In 1993, together with the Belgian Bernoulli researcher Patricia Radelet-de Grave, he initiated the series of international conferences entitled Between Mechanics and Architecture, which advanced to become the itinerary for a school and since Benvenuto’s early death has been continued by the Associazone Edoardo Benvenuto under its honorary president Jacques Heyman. Just four results of this itinerary will be mentioned here:

  • the compendium Towards a History of Construction (2002) published by Becchi, Corradi, Foce and Pedemonte;
  • Degli archi e delle volte (2002) by Becchi and Foce, with a very expertly annotated bibliography on the structural and geometrical analysis of past and present arches;
  • the compendium on the status of the history of structural engineering Construction History. Research Perspectives in Europe (2004) published by Becchi, Corradi, Foce and Pedemonte;
  • the reprint of La Scienza delle Costruzioni e il suo sviluppo storico (2006), Edoardo Benvenuto’s main work, with an 18-page introduction by Becchi, Corradi and Foce

At the same time, Benvenuto transcended the broad spectrum of building theory knowledge: scientific theory, philosophy and theology. For instance, as early as 1974 he published a book on materialism and scientific thinking, and from 1977 to 1980 taught part-time comparative cultural sciences at the Theological Faculty of Northern Italy. In 1997 he published a brilliant philosophical study on the genesis of the doctrine of Christian social teaching. And with a like-minded group of colleagues he founded the journal Bailamme. In 1996 Benvenuto was elected to the UNESCO Committee for Exact Sciences, and he also worked on the Committee for Culture for the same organisation. One year before his death, Benvenuto was elected president of the Ligurian Academy of Science and Literature in Genoa.

Main contributionts to structural analysis

  • La Scienza delle Costruzioni e il suo sviluppo storico [1981, 2006]
  • An Introduction to the History of Structural Mechanics [1991];
  • Entre Méchanique et Architecture. Between Mechanics and Architecture [1995]

Source: Kurrer, Karl-Eugen The History of the Theory of Structures, Wilhelm Ernst & Sohn Verlag für Architektur und technische Wissenschaften GmbH, Berlin (Germany), ISBN 3-433-01838-3, 2008; p. 716


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