Professor Alec Skempton was awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours.
Skempton, who last year was overwhelmingly voted top of Ground Engineering's Geotechnical Hall of Fame said he was 'very surprised, but delighted'.
Former vice president of the ICE, Skempton, 85, lectured at Imperial College, London until two years ago. He began the university's soil mechanics course and latterly has run a series of lectures on the history of civil engineering. His work on the properties of London Clay in the late 1950s was instrumental in making possible the construction of tall buildings in London.
Skempton is now editing a biographical dictionary of civil engineers with ICE head librarian Mike Chrimes. The first volume, covering 400 personalities from 1500 to 1830, is due to be published at the end of the year.