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Wind Wizard

Wind Wizard: Alan G. Davenport and the Art of Wind Engineering

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Wind Wizard
    Book Description:

    WithWind Wizard, Siobhan Roberts brings us the story of Alan Davenport (1932-2009), the father of modern wind engineering, who investigated how wind navigates the obstacle course of the earth's natural and built environments--and how, when not properly heeded, wind causes buildings and bridges to teeter unduly, sway with abandon, and even collapse.

    In 1964, Davenport received a confidential telephone call from two engineers requesting tests on a pair of towers that promised to be the tallest in the world. His resulting wind studies on New York's World Trade Center advanced the art and science of wind engineering with one pioneering innovation after another. Establishing the first dedicated "boundary layer" wind tunnel laboratory for civil engineering structures, Davenport enabled the study of the atmospheric region from the earth's surface to three thousand feet, where the air churns with turbulent eddies, the average wind speed increasing with height. The boundary layer wind tunnel mimics these windy marbled striations in order to test models of buildings and bridges that inevitably face the wind when built. Over the years, Davenport's revolutionary lab investigated and improved the wind-worthiness of the world's greatest structures, including the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Tower, Shanghai's World Financial Center, the CN Tower, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Sunshine Skyway, and the proposed crossing for the Strait of Messina, linking Sicily with mainland Italy.

    Chronicling Davenport's innovations by analyzing select projects, this popular-science book gives an illuminating behind-the-scenes view into the practice of wind engineering, and insight into Davenport's steadfast belief that there is neither a structure too tall nor too long, as long as it is supported by sound wind science.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4470-8
    Subjects: Technology, Architecture and Architectural History, History, Physics, Mathematics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. I Sowing Wind Science
    (pp. 1-31)

    No sooner did the Tacoma Narrows Bridge—the world’s third longest suspension bridge, and the pride of Washington State—open in July 1940 than it earned its epitaphic nickname, “Galloping Gertie.” The 4,000-foot structure, its main span reaching 2,800 feet, twisted and bucked in the wind. The pronounced heave, or more technically speaking the longitudinal undulation, caused some automobile passengers to complain of seasickness during crossings. Others observed oncoming cars disappearing from sight as if traveling a hilly country road. By November 7, amid 39-mile-an-hour winds, the $6,400,000 bridge wobbled and flailed, then rippled and rolled, then twisted like a...

  4. II Tall and Taller Towers
    (pp. 32-128)

    On a typically wintry morning in January 1964, amid a mess of papers on a computerless desk, a black rotary telephone rang in Professor Davenport’s basement office at the University of Western Ontario. Occupied at the moment with the chore of marking first-year students’ assignments, Davenport answered the call that would make his career.

    At the other end of the line Davenport found John Skilling, a partner in the Seattle-based structural engineering firm Worthington, Skilling, Helle & Robertson, and project engineer Les Robertson “singing a duet,” as Davenport recalled, expressing their concerns about the possible effects of wind on plans for...

  5. III Long and Longer Bridges
    (pp. 129-182)

    During a sabbatical spent in Belgium and France, the Davenports took the kids out of school and, for a time, set up camp in a trailer park. During a weeklong visit to Paris they parked their trailer in the Bois de Boulogne at the edge of the 16th arrondissement. Davenport emerged daily from these digs to find a driver waiting to chauffeur him to a few lectures here and there. Predominantly, however, he resided in an attractive house on avenue Hamoir in Brussels, where he consulted on the construction of a new wind tunnel at the NATO-sponsored von Kármán Institute...

  6. IV Project Storm Shelter
    (pp. 183-226)

    At the supper hour one Saturday in April 1996, the sky went a threatening shade of greenish black. Clouds, layer upon layer, low and heavy, scooted along the horizon in southern Ontario, offshoots twisting and swirling earthward. All day long, forecasters at the provincial weather center analyzed data and monitored computer prognostications. As evening fell, a thunderstorm took shape just northwest of Davenport’s home base in London. The storm picked up force as it continued on its course, causing the severe weather specialists much consternation over whether or not to issue a warning—not wanting to gain a reputation for...

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 227-228)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 229-242)
  9. Interview Sources
    (pp. 243-244)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. 245-250)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-266)
  12. Index
    (pp. 267-278)