The Visual Solution
Myron Goldsmith (SOM)


Myron Goldsmith, 1984

©Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

I had several important influences on my work. I was a student of Mies van der Rohe who I and many other people consider to have been one of the foremost architects of the 20th Century. I was his student and I worked in his office for seven years. I later became an architect and an engineer and then went to Italy to study with the great Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi who made some very important innovations in concrete construction. Not only did he bring new types of construction into being but he was to make concrete construction into a finished kind of architecture. In fact some of the most elegant buildings that I've ever seen are Pier Luigi Nervi's exposed concrete structures. And finally there was the influence of Skidmore Owings and Merrill where I spent a career of almost twenty-five years, first as an engineer and finally as an architect and partner. I was already in my thirties when I went to study with Nervi. I had always been interested in the framework of buildings, and very early I began to work on the problem of size, of scale. And I did it because living in Chicago and working on the kinds of buildings I was to work on, which were buildings of considerable size, I was interested in just what were the rules governing these. And I began to work on the idea of scale.


Diagram Of Different Types Of Long Bridges

©Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

I've illustrated this with two examples. The first is a diagram of buildings drawn to the same size. These are examples of the longest bridge of each type. At the top of the diagram is the longest suspension bridge, with a span of about 5400 feet; below is the longest cantilever bridge with a span of about 1800 feet; below that, the longest arch also about 1800 feet; and so on, illustrating with other types of bridges. The suspension bridge is of course the type used for all large spans, and it is characteristic of this kind of structure that its greatest efficiency is at long spans. And you don't find the type at all in bridges below about 55 feet. So I think you can give the general rule that,depending on the size of structure, you will use a certain type and it has a range between the longest span and the shortest. And when you get into another range of span, you will go to another type of structure.

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