David P. Billington

Felix Candela (left) as a guest lecturer in David Billington's (right) class
David P. Billington, Gordon Y. S. Wu Professor of Engineering at Princeton University, originated the concept of “The Art of Structural Design.” He is an eminent authority on thin shell concrete studies and on bridge design, combining in his scholarship the worlds of art and engineering. During his tenure at Princeton he has become a lecturer of legend, teaching large-scale structural analysis and at the same time extolling the aesthetic and social values intrinsic to beneficial technology. He has written extensively about the best structural engineers as artists, one of the greatest of whom was Félix Candela. Since meeting Candela in 1972, they have become good friends and Professor Billington soon after began to feature Candela and his works in lectures and teaching. He not only teaches about structure; he also draws connections between how we think and what we build. Professor Billington has organized several previous exhibitions at the museum. Most recently “The Art of Structural Design” a Swiss legacy which was a celebration of the Swiss engineers featured in that project. Likewise this present exhibition and book is a celebration of Candela and his structures as well as and a salute to Professor Billington’s fifty year teaching career at Princeton and his commitment to integrating visual education into the education of engineers and introducing engineering to students of all disciplines. The Candela project is central to these goals, but essential to it was the addition of Professor Garlock to our faculty whose intimate knowledge of the Spanish language and strong talent in structural engineering made this work possible.