2013 AISC T.R. Higgins Award

William F. Baker, P.E., S.E., structural engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP in Chicago, is the 2013 recipient of the prestigious AISC T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award. Baker is being honored for co-authoring papers on Stability Design of the Bow String Trusses of the Virginia Beach Convention Center andApplications of Structural Optimization in Architectural Design, which were published in the proceedings of the combined 2012 ASCE Structures Congress and 20th Analysis and Computation Specialty Conference.

The AISC T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award is presented annually by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) and recognizes an outstanding lecturer and author whose technical paper(s) are considered an outstanding contribution to the engineering literature on fabricated structural steel. The award, which includes a $15,000 cash prize, will be presented at the 2013 NASCC: The Steel Conference (www.aisc.org/nascc) at America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, April 17-19.

“Baker is a visionary engineer who can explain complex concepts in simple terms,” said Charles Carter, P.E., S.E., Ph.D., AISC vice president and chief structural engineer. “His recent work is groundbreaking in its application of classical methods to make computer solutions more practical and effective.”

Each year the AISC Education Foundation invites a distinguished panel of industry experts to judge the nominations. The jury reflects a blend of professional insight, industry experience and academic excellence. The following jurors collaborated to select Baker as the recipient of this year’s award:

  • Craig Archacki, P.E., engineering manager, United Steel, Inc., East Hartford, Conn.
  • Susan B. Burmeister, P.E., associate, Cagley & Associates, Inc., Rockville, Md.
  • Gary T. Fry, P.E., Ph.D., associate professor and director, Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • Jerome F. Hajjar, P.E., Ph.D., professor and chair, Northeastern University, Boston
  • Mark V. Holland, P.E., chief engineer, Paxton & Vierling Steel Company, a division of Owen Industries, Inc., Omaha, Neb.
  • Patrick McManus, P.E., S.E., Ph.D., structural technical director, Martin/Martin, Inc., Lakewood, Colo.

Throughout his distinguished career, Baker has dedicated himself to structural innovation. His best known contribution has been to develop the “buttressed core” structural system for the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest manmade structure. While widely regarded for his work on supertall buildings, his expertise also extends to long-span roof structures, such as the Korean Air Lines Operations Hangar and the Virginia Beach Convention Center, as well as specialty structures like Broadgate-Exchange House and the GM Renaissance Center-North Lobby. Baker has also collaborated with numerous artists, including Jamie Carpenter (Raspberry Island-Schubert Club Band Shell), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With), James Turrell (Roden Crater) and Jaume Plensa (World Voices).

In addition to working at SOM, Baker is actively involved with numerous professional organizations and institutions of higher learning. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Stuttgart and an ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Award for Design. He is also the 2010 recipient of the Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the 2009 recipient and first American to receive the Fritz Leonhardt Preis (Germany). In 2008, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) awarded him the Fazlur Rahman Khan medal. He is a Fellow of both the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the IStructE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He frequently lectures on a variety of structural engineering topics within the U.S. and abroad.

The AISC T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award is named for Theodore R. Higgins, former AISC director of engineering and research, who was widely acclaimed for his many contributions to the advancement of engineering technology related to fabricated structural steel. The award honors Higgins for his innovative engineering, timely technical papers and distinguished lectures. For more information on the award program, visit www.aisc.org/TRHigginsAward.

Recent T.R. Higgins recipients include: Michel Bruneau, P.E., Ph.D., (2012) for his papers on steel plate shear wall design published in AISC’s Engineering Journal and the proceedings of the Canadian Conference on Earthquake Engineering; Charles W. Roeder (2011) for his paper on Gusset Plate Connections for Seismic Design; James O. Malley (2010) for his paper on the 2005 AISC Seismic Provisions for Structural Steel Buildings, published in the First Quarter 2007 AISC Engineering Journal; and Donald W. White (2009) for his papers on stability analysis and design and the flexural provisions of the 2005 AISC Specification for Structural Steel Buildings.

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