John E. Breen

Nasser I. Al-Rashid Chair in Civil Engineering
The University of Texas, Austin, TX

The ABCD’s of Bridge Building: Affordable, Beautiful, Constructible, Durable (click to view video)

Friday, April 16, 2010
4:10 P.M.

Sinclair Laboratory Auditorium

Overview:

The interrelation of aesthetics with overall bridge design, construction, and maintenance is presented. Beauty is highly desirable, but aesthetics must always be balanced with consideration of efficiency, constructability, and attention to durability. The enigma of deciding “What price beauty?” is clearly illustrated in this comparison but can not be definitely answered because of the societal and political factors involved. The presentation concludes with a discussion of delay related user costs and the impact that they are having on choice of bridge structural systems such as in the Minneapolis I-35 bridge replacement.

JOHN E. BREEN: John Breen graduated from Marquette University in 1953 and served as a US Navy Civil Engineer Corps Officer in the Korean War. He received an M.S. from the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1957 and served on the faculty until 1959. He completed his Ph.D. under the tutelage of Phil M. Ferguson from the University of Texas at Austin in 1962.

He joined the faculty in Austin as an Assistant Professor and rose through the ranks to Professor of Civil Engineering. He holds the Nasser I. Al-Rashid Chair in Civil Engineering since 1984. He was granted an honorary doctorate from Marquette University in 2004. Dr. Breen is an Honorary Member of the American Concrete Institute and the American Segmental Bridge Institute, and has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering and to the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Dr. Breen has been involved with post-tensioned concrete from the mid 1950's when post-tensioning in the USA was in its infancy, and is recognized as a US pioneer in segmental precast concrete box girder bridges. He was in charge of design and model tests of the Corpus Christi causeway bridge. Over the years he has been a consultant on a number of major bridges. He has been extremely active in the development of both concrete building codes and bridge design and construction standards and served as chair of ACI 318 Building Code Committee for a six year period.

Dr. Breen has received numerous academic and industry awards including 6 medals for papers from ACI, 5 medals for papers from ASCE , the Award of Merit for Corpus Christi Segmental Bridge from PCI in 1974; as well as a large number of personal awards including international awards such as the French Caquot Medal in 2004, the FIP Medal in 1990, and the fib Freyssinet Medal in 2002.

The ABCD's of Bridge Building: Affordable, Beautiful, Constructible, Durable:

The interrelation of aesthetics with overall bridge design, construction, and maintenance is presented. Beauty is highly desirable, but aesthetics must always be balanced with consideration of efficiency, constructability, and attention to durability. Examples show that great beauty is completely compatible with efficient, fast construction techniques and that beauty is greatly degraded if proper detailing is not provided for durability and control of staining. Rapid construction techniques are important and valuable, and they can be completely compatible with enhanced aesthetics and environmental sensitivity. A case study examines two attractive but different structural systems that were designed with different intents for blending with their surroundings. They differed in initial cost by a factor of 10, and the higher-cost structure also will require more intensive maintenance to preserve its appearance. The enigma of deciding "What price beauty?" is clearly illustrated in this comparison but can not be definitely answered because of the societal and political factors involved. The presentation concludes with a discussion of delay related user costs and the impact that they are having on choice of bridge structural systems such as in the Minneapolis I-35 bridge replacement.

The Fazlur R. Khan Distinguished Lecture Series has been initiated and organized by Dan M. Frangopol, the first holder of Lehigh's Fazlur Rahman Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architecture.

The Dendrite and Graphite of a Grey Cast Iron Structure