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Library honours geotechnical legend

THE RALPH B PECK Library was opened at Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) in Oslo last month.

Attending the festive occasion were not only the the geotechnical legend himself but many of his colleagues and friends as well as his daughter Nancy and Karl Terzaghi's grandson Sergei, now practising as a geotechnical engineer in New Zealand.

The library holds copies of all Peck's publications, his job files, diaries, medals and awards and a fascinating scrapbook compiled by his parents. It is housed in a room adjacent to the Terzaghi library, established at NGI in 1967.

In her welcome, NGI managing director Suzanne Lacasse explained why the library was in Norway.

'There is really an interweaving of many reasons, but the origin of Ralph Peck's Norwegian connection is no doubt the magnetism, close friendship and mutual professional respect that existed between him and NGI's first director Laurits Bjerrum, ' she said.

Peck gave a lecture describing his experiences with Karl Terzaghi during construction of the tunnels for the Chicago subway, an exciting presentation during which he emphasised the importance of making decisions during construction based on observations rather than on analysis. This was followed by a presentation by Elmo DiBiagio.

In the 1960s DiBiagio and Kaare Flaate were both doctoral students of Peck, and in March this year they spent a week with him at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico to 'interview'him.

The result was the presentation and a publication given to attendees entitled NGI Publication Number 207, Ralph B Peck, engineer, educator, a man of judgment. The document contains Lacasse's welcome, a career profile of Peck presented as a borehole log, the interviews, a list of awards and citations, a list of Peck's published works (three of which are reprinted) and a chapter entitled 'Words of Wisdom' - a series of pungent quotations.

NGI Publication Number 207 is available from NGI, PO Box 3930, Ullevaal Stadion, N-0806 Oslo, Norway; email: ngi@ngi. no.

Requests should be marked 'for the attention of the library'. All interested are welcome to visit NGI and browse in the library.

John Dunnicliff Norwegian Geotechnical Institute at www.ngi.no

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