Allison Halpern

I am a graduate student in the Mechanics, Materials, and Structures PhD program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Princeton University. I received a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a minor in Architectural Studies from Tufts University in the spring of 2008. In the fall of 2008, I entered the M.S.E. program in Civil Engineering at Princeton University and worked with Professor Billington in studying the bridge projects and design philosophy of French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux. After graduating from the M.S.E. program in June 2010, I continued my academic career at Princeton at the PhD level with Professor Adriaenssens as my adviser.

The goal of my PhD research is to develop a design methodology to produce practical structural forms for stability-sensitive, urban footbridges using dynamic relaxation form-finding, deterministic optimization, finite element methods, and governing bridge code requirements.

The accomplishments of the project to date are: 1) the application of dynamic relaxation form-finding to an entire footbridge superstructure to integrate the railing and bridge deck as one structural, form-found system; 2) the coupling of dynamic relaxation form-finding and deterministic geometry optimization to enforce an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant footbridge form; and 3) the combination in one computational routine of an initial form-found footbridge form, deterministic buckling optimization, linear finite element methods, and governing bridge code loading patterns to produce a stability-improved footbridge form.

The immediate goals of the project are: 1) to structurally analyze and design the combined stability-improved footbridge form; 2) to include additional serviceability criterion in the combined computational routine; and 3) to integrate additional, developed dynamic relaxation form-finding algorithms, which control element geometry, into the combined computational routine.


Halpern, A., Billington D. and Adriaenssens S.(2013).‘The ribbed floor slab systems of Pier Luigi Nervi.’In: Journal of International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures, 54, pp.127-135.

Halpern, AB, Adriaenssens, S (2013) ‘Coupled Form-Finding and Buckling Optimization for Stability-Sensitive Structures’ IASS conference , Wroclaw, Poland.

Halpern, AB, Adriaenssens, S. , Billington, D.(2013). ‘The Ribbed Floor Slab Systems of Pier Luigi Nervi’. IASS conference, Wroclaw, Poland.

Adriaenssens S., Lowinger R., Hernandez J.,Brown N., Halpern A., Aye Z M, Prier M. (2012). ‘The Shells of the Miami Marine Stadium: Synergy between form, force and energy.’ IASS-IACM 2012: 7th International Conference on Computational Mechanics of Spatial Structures., Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Halpern A.., Adriaenssens S., (2011). ‘Application of Sustainable Design Software to Footbridges‘ IABSE-IASS Symposium, London, UK.

Halpern A., Adriaenssens S. (2011). ‘State of sustainable practice in bridge design’. International Bridge Conference, Pittsburgh, USA.

Halpern A., Adriaenssens S. (2011).’Case Study: An Efficient, Elegant Redesign of the Route 29 Pedestrian Bridge in Columbia, MD, United States’ 4 th International Footbridge Conference, Poland.

« Go back to people