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William LeMessurier

William LeMessurier
BornJune 12, 1926
DiedJune 14, 2007
EducationHarvard College (AB 1947); Harvard Graduate School of Design; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SM 1953)
OccupationStructural engineer, Architect, professor
Known forStructural Engineering

William "Bill" James LeMessurier, Jr. (/ləˈmɛʒər/; June 12, 1926 – June 14, 2007) was a prominent American structural engineer.

Early life and education

Born in Pontiac, Michigan, he was the youngest of four children of Bertha (Sherman) and William James LeMessurier Sr., owners of a dry cleaning business. After finishing high school Bill left Michigan to major in Mathematics at Harvard College. LeMessurier graduated with a BA in 1947, then went to Harvard Graduate School of Design. He would later transfer over to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned his Master's Degree in building engineering and construction in 1953.[1][2]


While at MIT, LeMessurier worked for Albert Goldberg an established Boston structural engineer, eventually he would become a partner and the firm was renamed Goldberg-LeMessurier Associates. In April 1961, the two separated and Bill launched his firm LeMessurier Consultants.[3]

While responsible for the structural engineering on a large number of prominent buildings, including Boston City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Singapore Treasury Building and Dallas Main Center, LeMessurier is perhaps best known for a structural controversy. As the result of the questions of a student (Diane Hartley),[4] LeMessurier re-assessed his calculations on the Citicorp headquarters tower in New York City in 1978, after the building had already been finished, and found that the building was more vulnerable than originally thought (in part due to cost-saving changes made to the original plan by the contractor). This triggered a hurried, clandestine retrofit which was described in a celebrated article in The New Yorker. The article, titled "The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis,"[5] is now used as an ethical case-study.[6]


He was awarded the AIA Allied Professions Medal in 1968, elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1978, elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects in 1988, and elected an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1989.[3] In 2004, he was elevated to National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society.


LeMessurier died in Casco, Maine on June 14, 2007 as a result of complications after surgery he underwent on June 1 after a fall the day before.[7]

See also


  1. ^ William LeMessurier: Builder of Elegant Cutting-edge Structures
  2. ^ MIT Spectrum
  3. ^ a b Harvard Design School Faculty Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Nye, James (21 April 2014). "The New York disaster that never happened: How one phone call from an architecture STUDENT saved the 915ft Citigroup skyscraper from crashing onto Manhattan during a hurricane". Daily Mail. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  5. ^ Joe Morgenstern (1995), "The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis", The New Yorker, May 29, 1995. Pages 45–53.
  6. ^ Citicorp case study, Norbert Delatte, University of Alabama. Accessed Nov. 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (June 21, 2007). "William LeMessurier, 81, Structural Engineer, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2014.

External links