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Speaking up for Ove Arup

Civil of the century; Ove Arup

Runaway winner in NCE's poll to find the greatest British civil engineer of the 20th century was Ove Arup.

It won't surprise many that Ove Arup was the runaway winner when we asked NCE readers to nominate the greatest British civil engineer of the 20th century. But in some ways it is an odd choice.

Although born in Britain, Arup grew up in Germany and Denmark and retained a strong accent throughout his life. He arguably had greater impact on architecture than engineering and did remarkably little design work himself. And can a man so closely associated with structural engineering, actually be the century's greatest civil?

Even his founding and development of the Arup consultancy appears to have been almost by sleight of hand rather than the day by day direction of his contemporary Owen Williams.

Strange as it may seem, civil engineers - the most practical of people - have handed the crown to a man whose main contribution was to take a philosophical approach to their profession.

Ove Arup was obviously a hard man to pin down. Dotted through this supplement are 50 quotes - one for each year of Ove Arup & Partners existence - about and from this century's greatest, and most unusual, civil engineer.

The nine runners up in the poll were:

2. The Freeman dynasty

3. Alec Skempton

4. Karl Terzaghi

5. Sir Angus Paton

6. Sir Owen Williams

7. Oleg Kerensky

8. Eugene Freyssinet

9. Sir Alan Harris

10. Sir Harold Boyer Harding

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