Structural Engineer T.Y. Lin Is Alumnus of the Year
Some of His Designs Are So Far Ahead of Their Time That They Remain Unbuilt
The California Alumni Association has named Berkeley graduate T.Y. Lin its Alumnus of the Year for 1994. A pioneer in the use of prestressed concrete, Lin at 82 is perhaps the greatest structural engineer in the world. He certainly is the most fearless. In San Francisco, he is best known as the designer of the massive arches that hold up Moscone Center.
Lin will be the guest of honor at the association's annual Charter Banquet, to be held April 28, 1995, at the Marriott Hotel in San Francisco.
The association's highest award, the "Alumnus of the Year" designation was first given in 1943 to pioneer aviator Jimmy Doolittle. Other recipients include Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, defense secretary Robert McNamara, economist John Kenneth Galbraith and author Joan Didion.
Tung-Yen Lin earned his master's degree in engineering at Berkeley in 1933.
Some of Lin's designs are so far ahead of their time that they remain unbuilt. Among them are the Intercontinental Peace Bridge, which would connect Siberia and Alaska across the Bering Strait, and a proposal for the U.N.-sponsored Strait of Gibraltar crossing, which would link Spain and Morocco with twin 16,000-foot "superspans."
Born in China in 1912, Lin came to Berkeley as a graduate student in 1932. His master's thesis led to an important breakthrough in structural analysis.
Lin returned to Shanghai in 1933 and got a job with the Chinese Government Railways. Though only 23, he soon became chief bridge engineer of a mountainous railroad system. Before and after the Japanese invasion, Lin and his crews built bridges and culverts along the Yangtze River, using whatever materials were available, mostly stone and timber.
Meanwhile his young wife Margaret, whom he married in 1941, crossed Japanese lines and traveled the width of China from Shanghai to Chunking to join him.
After the war with Japan came civil war. Lin thought of staying on, but in 1946 he was invited back to Berkeley to teach. He quickly established himself as an energetic teacher and became one of the world's authorities on prestressed concrete. Using Berkeley's research facilities, Lin took the mystique out of this revolutionary material.
Prestressed concrete combines the tensile strength of steel with the compressive resistance of concrete.