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Memorial Tributes, Volume 14
Elected in 1978
“For accomplishments in theory, research, and design, andconstruction of steel, reinforced concrete, and prestressed concrete.”
BY JOHN E. BREEN
BRUNO THÜRLIMANN, professor emeritus of structural engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and a visionary, pioneering expert on engineering applications of plasticity theory in both steel and concrete structures, died on July 29, 2008, at the age of 85. Bruno Thürlimann was elected a member of NAE in 1978 “for accomplishments in theory, research, design and construction of steel, reinforced concrete, and prestressed concrete structures.”
In November 1850, when President Zachary Taylor signed a Convention of Friendship, Commerce and Extradition between the United States and Switzerland, he said it was his hope that “the two freest peoples on earth will treat each other reciprocally on a footing of equality.” A century later, Bruno Thürlimann, who was born a Swiss citizen and became a naturalized American citizen in 1957, was the embodiment of a bridge between the two nations for transferring technical ideas between the two worlds and improving structural engineering in both. A warm, compassionate, open-minded teacher and researcher, he brought scientific ideas and rigorous mathematical theories from Europe to underpin the highly empirical base of North American structural design. And he brought nonlinear and plastic approaches for structural