Christian Menn

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Sunniberg Bridge south view
Rhine bridge Tamins
Cresta forest bridge
Mesocco bridges

Christian Menn (born March 3, 1927 in Meiringen, Canton of Bern) is a bridge designer from Switzerland. He owned his own Engineering Company in Chur, Switzerland from 1957-1971. From 1971 until his retirement in 1992 he became a professor of Structural Engineering at ETH Zurich specializing in Bridge design. In his retirement years, he continues to be a consulting engineer in private practice.

Bridge design[edit]

Menn’s bridges had to be designed for the times. "Structural Analysis found itself at the time in the transition from descriptive graphical analysis to abstract analytical statics." (Menn, 2002) Menn worked very closely with Professor Pierre Lardy during the beginning of his career. Together, Menn and Lardy emphasized the design of structures based on aesthetics and economy. Menn believed that economy, serviceability and safety of the bridge would revolve around aesthetics. Menn stated that an engineer achieves safety and serviceability by understanding the underlying scientific principles. Also, that economy and elegance are achieved through nonscientific ideas. Meaning the engineer depends entirely on his creativity. Menn described his bridges with abstract designs. This allowed Menn the ability to analyze the bridges and find stresses and distribution forces within the bridge. This was the basis for his design work. By this method, Menn was able to put schematic calculations on the bridges, which could eventually be used in computer applications.

Education and practical training[edit]

Menn graduated from high school (Kantonsschule Chur) in 1946 followed by structural engineering studies at the ETH Zurich. He received the diploma as Bauingenieur (civil engineer) in 1950. From 1950 through 1953 he worked for construction engineering companies. Then, he returned to the ETH Zurich to become assistant to Pierre Lardy, a well-known professor of structural engineering and was awarded a PhD degree in 1956. He gained practical experience working for companies in Paris and Berne before starting his own consulting company in 1957.

Professional organizations[edit]

Christian Menn is a member of the Swiss Society of Civil Engineers (SIA), the Swiss Trade Group for Bridge and Building Engineering, International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE), Swiss Code-Committee for Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete Structures, and was a member of the ETH research committee.


Christian Menn was awarded the 2009 IABSE International Award of Merit, and the Sunniberg Bridge won the 2001 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award.

Swiss tourism[edit]

The important role that tourism plays on the country’s economy has an impact on the types of bridges that are to be constructed. When choosing a bridge design, Swiss leaders place the aesthetic characteristics of a bridge higher than a country that is less tourism driven. This need for visually appealing bridges afforded bridge designer Christian Menn with a great opportunity. Christian Menn’s bridges are very visually pleasing. His use of pre-stressed concrete and the implementation of cable-stayed bridge decks give his designs great aesthetic appeal.


  • Billingtion, David P. "The Art of Structural Design a Swiss Legacy", 1st ed. Vol. 1. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Art Museum, 2003. 164-201.
  • Fynn, Larry. (1997). "An Engineer and His Bridges" Roads & Bridges, Vol. 35, Issue 11, p41
  • Bernstein, Fred. (2001). "Designer Quashes A Boston Bridge Party", New York Times. Aug 9, 2001. F5.
  • Menn, Christan. (1990). Prestressed Concrete Bridges. Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.

External links[edit]