Ian Liddell

Ian Liddell CBE, studied mechanical sciences (the precursor to engineering) at Cambridge University followed by a diploma in concrete structures at the Imperial College, London. One of the founding partners of Buro Happold, he retired in 2005, but continues to work for the practice as a consultant. He is a Royal Academy Visiting Professor of Engineering Design at the Cambridge University’s School of Engineering, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

His Inspiration:

    During his 30 years with Buro Happold, Ian worked on an array of projects, mainly lightweight structures. His innovative design for the cable net and flat fabric roof of the Millennium Dome was recognised in 1999, with the presentation of the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award, the most prestigious prize for UK engineering.

His Philosophy:

    Buro Happold’s structural engineering team works closely with architects and clients as well as other Buro Happold specialists, to deliver exciting yet functional buildings that exceed expectations for cost-effective construction and operation. Structural engineers advise on all aspects of the project – including construction materials and methods, costs, risks and sustainability – to give clients complete confidence that the final design is sound and offers best value.

His Impact / His Projects:

    Apart from the Millennium Dome, Other major projects in which Ian has played a principal role include the Mannheim Gridshell, the Glasgow Science Centre Tower, the Globe Theatre in London, the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital atrium roof, the State Mosque of Sarawak and the British Embassy in Riyadh.

His take on Light Weight structures:

    Lightweight structures" implies efficiency of materials, minimum weight for the spans, doing more for less. It is basically a philosophy that all engineers would agree with. The past decade has been a time of plenty with an explosion of construction and competitively extravagant designs but also one when economics has been the prime driver in the selection of structural solutions and the key feature of the economics has been labour costs. The doing more with less aim was lost. The lightweight concept flourished in times of shortage and social struggle when materials were in short supply, the job market was difficult and labour rates low especially the 1950s and 60s. If the GFC and the expanding urbanisation of developing countries have an impact these aims may return but probably in different forms. In parallel with this we also have the drive for sustainability and the reduction of the carbon footprint within building.”