JOURNAL PUBLICATION: How and Why Laurent Ney Finds Steel Structural Forms

The talent, knowledge and approaches of the structural designer Laurent Ney (1964-present) are increasingly recognized by engineering, architecture and construction awards. Most of the writing on his work has focused on his design philosophy or on individual projects. The aim of this paper is threefold: 1) to provide a social, historic and geological context for his work, 2) to showcase how he masters digital and numerical shape finding and optimization approaches to inform his design and construction decisions and 3) to illustrate how his works revive underutilized public spaces and augment people’s happiness and well-being. The three chosen case studies are all large-span steel structures: one beam bridge (Centner) and two shell structures (steel/glass gridshell over the courtyard of the Dutch Maritime Museum and the hanging steel shell of the Knokke Lichtenlijn footbridge). The scholarship presented in this paper forms the basis for one of the contemporary lectures of CEE262 “Structures and the Urban Environment,” a course first taught by Prof. Billington in 1974 at Princeton University.