The following article was published in N-SPHERE February 2010 issue.


Name: Alexandre–Gustave Eiffel

Lived: 1832 – 1923

Location: France

Profession: engineer, specialist of metallic structures


Ever since the beginning of structured social clusters, a strong preoccupation was directed to shelters and constructions. Their intrinsic motivation, be it towards adoration of deities or for mere everyday life, lingers on up until this moment: to conquer nature, to master the basic materials that seem so frail, yet so sturdy against the passage of time. At the end of the 20th century, architecture was already considered a form of art, floating imponderably between the creative and engineering planes.

With time, technology advancements opened new gates to creation. From the simple gardener who invented reinforced concrete, to the current underground “green” housing solutions, markers stand witness in history, each with its own tale and contribution to the new millennium urban life. Such is the work of Gustave Eiffel, a French contractor with a comprehension of technology ahead of its time. As metallic structures emerged little by little into construction practices in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, Eiffel’s works brought forth the early machinations of what is today known as industrial art.

The famous Eiffel Tower that stands as a landmark of contemporary Paris, the Statue of Liberty – American national symbol, the Nice Observatory’s dome, the Garabit Viaduct that crosses Truyère river in France, the Western Railway Station of Budapest, all brought to life a melody in steel, smooth lines from harsh materials. The inherent grandeur of his bracing systems and bolts, raises high above the ground, still alive in silent magnificence even to this day.

Eiffel and his contemporary structural engineering colleagues have definitely put their imprint on today’s urban skylines. And a smiles comes to mind, when remembering Hugh Jackman retorting in 2001’s “Kate and Leopold” – “Good Lord, it still stands. The world has changed all around it, but Roebling’s erection still stands!” – as he impersonated a time traveler of the late 1800s standing awed in front of a 21st century Brooklyn bridge.

Artwork: The Eiffel Tower, 1900, by William Herman Rau

by Vel Thora

Full article here.