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VOL. 23, NO. 2September 12, 1997

Mario Salvadori, Architect, Engineer

Mario Salvadori

By Kim Brockway

Mario G. Salvadori, the renowned Columbia professor who worked to link the fields of structural engineering and architecture and served as a consultant on the Manhattan Project, died of natural causes on June 25 at Mt. Sinai Hospital. He was 90.

  Salvadori was the author of ten books on architectural structures (including Structural Design in Architecture, 1967) and five books on applied mathematics (including Numerical Methods in Engineering, 1953. He had taught at Columbia since 1940, and, at the time of his death, was the James Renwick Professor Emeritus of Civil Engineering and Applied Science and Professor of Architecture Emeritus.

  "Aside from being a brilliant mathematician and an outstanding engineer whose office was considered an ideal training ground for young engineers, Mario Salvadori was also a charismatic teacher of structures at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University," said Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture at Columbia. "With his boundless engineering knowledge and deep sense of public commitment, he made a unique and wide-ranging contribution to both the University and to society at large. He will be greatly missed."

  He also was the founder and chairman of the Salvadori Educational Center on the Built Environment (SECBE), a non-profit educational center at the City College of New York dedicated to helping inner-city youth appreciate science and mathematics through a hands-on study of bridges and other structures.

  Born in Rome, Italy, in 1907, Salvadori received his Ph.D. in engineering in 1930 and Ph.D. in pure mathematics in 1933, both from the University of Rome, where he taught until 1938. Soon after joining the faculty at Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science, he worked on the Manhattan Project (1942-45) and was appointed to the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 1959. He began his affiliation with Weidlinger Associates, Inc., the Manhattan engineering firm, as a consultant in 1954, and rose to the positions of partner, chairman of the board, and finally, Honorary Chairman.

  Determined to instruct children—especially the disadvantaged—in basic architectural concepts, he volunteered in 1976 to teach engineering to junior high school students in Harlem. His experiences led to the creation of the Salvadori Educational Center on the Built Environment, which supports reform efforts in New York City's school system

  Salvadori was awarded the Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering in 1997, the Hoover Medal (a joint award of five engineering societies) from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1993, and the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architectural Education from the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 1993. Columbia awarded him an honorary doctor of science degree in 1978 and the Pupin Medal for outstanding service to the nation in architecture and engineering in 1991. The New School for Social Research awarded him an honorary degree in fine arts, also in 1991.

  Salvadori is survived by his wife, Carol, sons Vieri Salvadori and Michael Kazan, daughters-in-law Rebecca Szabo and Beth Horowitz, and three grandchildren.