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The Engineer's Contribution to Contemporary Architecture Series: Peter Rice. (Rice Lateral).

By Andre Brown. London: Thomas Telford Publishing. 2001, [pounds sterling]25

If you want to know about structural innovation, and you should, then this is a wonderful example of the lateral thinking and creativity of a great engineer.

Peter Rice was probably the greatest British engineer of the twentieth century and his early death robbed both architects and engineers of the imagination of a great man. He had huge talent and charisma and was a favourite engineer of many famous architects. He was also a great innovator and one who was able to impart his structural ideas in clear free-flowing graphic sketches, unlike some other engineers.

This monograph is almost a history of the great structures of the twentieth century -- Sydney Opera House, Centre Beaubourg, the Menil Collection, Bari stadium, Lloyd's of London, Kansai Airport and many others. The list is mind-blowing in its scope of type of building, structural invention and use of different structural materials.

The preface contains paeans of praise from both architects and Jack Zunz of Arups, the firm that he worked for all his life. This is followed by a chapter on his relationship with architects and then one on Themes and Influences, followed by chapters on specific and important buildings for which he was engineer.

Rice claimed that he was not an architect-engineer but he had the sensibilities to collaborate with architects in creating great works of combined architecture and engineering in a sympathetic way. He was a master of all the structural materials -- stone, concrete, cast metals and membranes and sometimes used daring combinations of disparate materials i.e. stone and stainless steel.

This book is the fifth in a series of 'The Engineer's Contribution to Contemporary Architecture' and illustrates the varied range of skills deployed by engineers in support of great architecture.
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Author:Hunt, Anthony
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2002
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