George J. Tamaro, a civil engineer with a specialty in foundation construction is recognized internationally for his work on some of the world's most well-known structures.
Tamaro, a native of New Jersey with Italian heritage graduated with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College in 1959 before coming to Lehigh for his master's degree. After receiving his M.S. in civil engineering in 1961, Tamaro accepted a position as a staff engineer with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He stayed with the organization until 1971. During his tenure, he studied at Columbia University and earned a master's degree in architecture in 1969. The Port Authority sent Tamaro to Rome, Italy in the 1960s to study reinforced concrete with renowned architect, Pier Luigi Nervi.
Tamaro became involved with the building of the first World Trade Center, when the Port Authority asked him to be one of the resident engineers on the project. ICOS, an Italian-based firm, was responsible for building the foundations, and the WTC project was how Tamaro became acquainted with the company. From 1971-1980, Tamaro worked at the Italian-based ICOS Corporation of America, eventually rising to the position of Vice President and Chief Engineer. In 1980, Tamaro began working for Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers (MRCE). By the time he retired in 2006, he was a partner for the firm, though he continues to work in the capacity of a consultant for MRCE.
Construction of the World Trade Center
Tamaro worked at the WTC site for over a year, using his knowledge of slurry foundations that he acquired in Italy. Although the foundation itself was pretty common, the proximity to the Hudson River made the ground soft and difficult to work with. Tamaro and the other engineers had to worry about possible flooding and keeping the site dry as they worked. Tamaro helped to design and build the foundations for the North and South Towers, World Trade Center 7, and the World Financial Center.
On September 12, 2001, the city called Tamaro to advise workers on clearing the rubble from the collapsed towers. The problem with removing debris from the foundation was that over time, the area around the concrete "bathtub" as the foundation was called, had grown even softer over the years. Engineers were concerned that the only thing holding the walls in place was the wreckage in the pit, and if the walls caved, the site would become flooded making it even more dangerous. Tamaro headed the team that reinforced the walls of the deep basement as the debris was removed from the site.
Since 2001, Tamaro was involved with the rebuilding of WTC 7 and the Freedom Tower.
Although the World Trade Center helped Tamaro to make his name in the engineering world, he has been involved in building the foundations for a host of other well-known structures. He has worked in Germany on the Messeturm in Frankfurt, which was the tallest building in Europe at the time of its construction and is still only fifth by a little over ten meters. Also in Germany, in Berlin, was the Friedrichstadt Passagen--a building that covers three city blocks, has a three level deep basement, and contains restaurants, commercial shopping, offices, and apartments--and a 5 level deep below-grade parking garage beneath a hotel. In the U.S., Tamaro worked on the JFK Light Rail Project connecting JFK to the Jamaica Rail Station, the NYC subway, and a number of parking lots, the Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, New Jersey, and four buildings--the Conde Nast Building, Times Square Tower, the Ernst and Young Building, and the Reuters Building--in downtown New York City.
In addition to his impressive list of structural feats, Tamaro has published papers in numerous magazines, journals, and case studies, written chapters for a number of textbooks, and taught seminars about foundation engineering at universities across the country. Tamaro also holds several patents in slurry wall construction in the United States and Canada.
Tamaro is involved in a number of professional societies, in many of which he has assumed leadership roles. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers, both in the United Kingdom. He is also a member of the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) where he was a former trustee and member of the slurry wall committee, belongs to the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering (ISSMFE), and is a former member of the Finance Committe for the Council on Tall Buildings and the Urban Habitat. Tamaro served as 2001-2002 President of The Moles, the most distinguished fraternal organization of the heavy construction industry, as well as a former trustee and Chairman of the Education Committee. He is an associate member of The Beavers, a social organization for those employed in heavy engineering construction, and a member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) GeoInstitute, and the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute. In 2003, ASCE made him an honorary member. He is also a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, and Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society.
Tamaro remained close to his alma maters as he works with the Manhattan College of Civil Engineering Consultors, and serves on the Columbia University Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Industry Advisory Committee. When Lehigh initiated its master of engineering degree in structural engineering in July, 2008, he was one of the first sponsors through the MRCE firm.
Awards and Honors
Tamaro has been recognized many times over for his contributions to the world of structural engineering. In 1986 he was nominated for the Engineering News-Record Man of the Year Award for his work on the World Financial Center. Then, in 1987, he was awarded the ASCE Martin S. Kapp Foundation Engineering Award which is given for "innovative or outstanding design or construction of foundations, earthworks, retaining structures, or underground construction."
In 1995, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering "for advancing the design and construction of slurry walls and deep foundations worldwide." Being inducted into the society is considered to be one of the highest honors accorded to an engineer.
Tamaro received the Deep Foundations Institute Distinguished Service Award in 1999, and then the ASCE Homer Gage Balcolm Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering in 2002.
In 2003, The Moles bestowed upon him their Award for Outstanding Achievement in Construction. He received the Edmund Friedman Professional Recognition Award from ASCE, and the Ralph B. Peck Medal from the ASCE GeoInstitute in 2003 as well. In 2004 The Beavers recognized him with the Golden Beaver Award for Engineering, and he won an ASCE OPAL (Outstanding Projects and Leadership Award) Lifetime Award for Design.
The John Fritz Medal known as "highest award in the engineering profession," is awarded annually for important achievements in science or industry. It is rotated yearly between five major disciplines of engineering. ASCE and the American Academies of Engineering Societies (AAES) awarded the Fritz Medal to Tamaro in 2005. In that same year, he also received the Lynn. S. Beedle Distinguished Engineering Award from Lehigh University.
In 2006, he won the National Society of Professional Engineers Award, and the ASCE Ernest E. Howard Award for advancements in structural engineering. The Concrete Industry Board presented him with the Leader of Industry Award in 2007. In the same year, the U.S. Department of the Army awarded him an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, the third highest public service honorary award.