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A letter from an alumnus about the January 29 article about the Art of Engineering

February 20, 2003

As a long time practitioner of civil engineering, I was pleased to read the article "The Art of Engineering." To me a beautiful bridge is the epitome of both art and engineering. As Professor Billington so aptly puts it, a great bridge has "elegance, efficiency, and economy" and serves "symbolic, scientific, and social" purposes.

Last year, as president of the American Society of Civil Engineers, I had the opportunity to travel the country, indeed the world, visiting some of the great engineering projects. Today's designers are no less elegant than their predecessors and are creating wonderful new bridge structures such as those in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Scandinavia, Korea and in our own country.

I would add that the art of engineering extends far beyond bridge design to the highway and mass transit systems that can blend in with the environment and serve the social needs of an expanding population; to the "beauty" of water and wastewater and proper environmental management systems which restore, protect and enhance our natural environment; and of course, to the extraordinary contemporary buildings conceived by master architects with the support of master engineers.

We think of bridges as engineering projects and buildings as architectural projects. In truth, today's major projects are conceived, developed and built by teams of engineers and architects: together they are artists of the built environment.

It is gratifying to learn of Professor Billington's popularity on the Princeton campus.

H.G. “Gerry" Schwartz Jr. ’60
St. Louis, Mo.

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January 28, 2003

Referring to your article about Professor David Billington, Princeton is most fortunate to have a professor of his tremendous ability to get students to understand the quality and the beauty of things physical. The Class of 1935 had its first European vacation trip to Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Bob McEwen and I did the planning. Professor Billington was to be in Switzerland at the same time. I asked him to give a talk to the class one evening. He did so very willingly. His topic was the Bridges of Maillart. His talk was fascinating. After the talk was over, three classmates came up to me, one at a time, and in almost the exact words said, "Bob, we didn't want to hear a talk on Swiss bridges, but when Professor Billington started to talk, we did not want him to stop."

Robert alonzo Winters ’35
Hightstown, N.J.

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