John Ochsendorf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Ochsendorf
Born 1973/1974 (age 42–43)[1]
Elkins, West Virginia
Nationality United States
Education Cornell University (BSc 1996); Princeton University (MSc 1998); University of Cambridge (PhD 2002)[2]
Occupation Structural engineer, architectural historian, associate professor
Known for Studies of ancient architecture
Spouse(s) Anne Carney[3]
Website John Ochsendorf at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning

John Ochsendorf (born 1974) is a structural engineer and historian of construction; he is a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[2] He is widely known for becoming a MacArthur Fellow in 2008[1] He has been selected to be the Director of the American Academy in Rome beginning in July of 2017.[4]

Early years and education[edit]

Ochsendorf grew up in Elkins, West Virginia;[3][5] he was educated at Elkins High School, Cornell University,[6] Princeton University, and the University of Cambridge.[2] His university degrees are all in the field of structural engineering.

He also studied in Spain under the Fulbright Program.[7][8]


Ochsendorf joined the MIT faculty in 2002, and holds a joint appointment in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) and the Department of Architecture.[3] He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses, and serves on a number of faculty committees.[3] As of 2015, Ochensdorf serves on MIT's Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships, together with Rebecca Saxe and Kimberly Benard.

Ochsendorf is known for using architecture and engineering to study and restore ancient structures and sometimes draws upon ancient building methods for the benefit of modern construction. He has studied Incan simple suspension bridges[6] and the earthquake-worthiness of Gothic cathedrals.[5]

Ochsendorf also curated an exhibition Palaces for the People, featuring the history and legacy of Guastavino tile construction, which premiered in September 2012 at the Boston Public Library, Rafael Guastavino's first major architectural work in America. The exhibition then traveled to the National Building Museum in Washington DC, and an expanded version appeared at the Museum of the City of New York. Ochsendorf, a winner of the Macarthur Foundation "genius grant", also wrote the book-length color-illustrated monograph Guastavino vaulting : the art of structural tile,[9] and an online exhibition coordinated with the traveling exhibits.[10]

In addition, Ochsendorf directs the Guastavino Project at MIT, which researches and maintains the online archive of related materials.[11]

Collier Memorial[edit]

On April 29, 2015, MIT held special ceremonies dedicating a memorial to MIT Police officer Sean Collier, who had been killed by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev two years earlier.[12] Ochsendorf and his students were deeply involved with the structural engineering of the design, which was led by J. Meejin Yoon, the head of the MIT Department of Architecture.[13] The memorial consists of 32 massive granite blocks precision-shaped under computer numerical control, and fitted together into a shallow open domed arch with 5 radial support wings splayed out like fingers of an open hand.[14][15]

The design was carefully evaluated in computer simulation for resistance to a major earthquake before being approved. Compressive forces on each block were calculated to be in the range of 20,000 to 50,000 pounds (9,100 to 22,700 kg).[14][15] Each joint between the stone blocks was shaped to be perpendicular to the forces transmitted through the joint, visually expressing the invisible forces that hold the structure up.[14][15] The underground foundation, an essential part of the structure, is made of reinforced concrete to resist the spreading forces produced by the shallow arch it supports. The weight of the structure is supported by mini-piles driven to a depth of 30–40 feet (9.1–12.2 m).[15]

The polished, tapered stone blocks, carved to a precision of 0.5 millimetres (0.020 in), were installed with the assistance of Ochsendorf and his team. The scaffolding was carefully removed over the span of 8 hours, while the descent of the central 12,000-pound (5,400 kg) keystone was carefully monitored. Predicted to settle 5 to 15 millimetres (0.20 to 0.59 in), the stone was actually measured as descending 6 millimetres (0.24 in).[15]

At the dedication ceremony, MIT President Rafael Reif observed that the memorial represented the community coming together after tragedy: “We are held together by invisible forces too".[15]

Personal life[edit]

Since 2010, Ochsendorf and his wife Anne Carney have also served as housemasters of the MIT graduate student dormitory called "The Warehouse".[3] He is an enthusiastic soccer player, and enjoys hiking, cycling, and camping. He has lived in Australia, England, Spain, and Italy, and enjoys travel.[3]


Published works[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rousseau, Caryn (September 23, 2008). "MacArthur Foundation awards 2008 'genius grants'". Associated Press. USA Today. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  2. ^ a b c "John A. Ochsendorf". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Warehouse Housemasters". The Warehouse: Graduate Residence at MIT. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  4. ^ "American Academy in Rome appoints John Ochsendorf as Director" (PDF). January 23, 2017. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 
  5. ^ a b "Inspiring West Virginian: John Ochsendorf". West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  6. ^ a b "Students and faculty honored for their achievements". Cornell Chronicle. May 23, 1996. Retrieved 2011-10-21. Students who won $1,000 first prizes in the National Student Paper Competition for the 1996 International Bridge Conference were Barbara J. Jaeger for 'Evaluation of a Post-Tensioned Bridge Using the Impact-Echo Method' and John Ochsendorf for 'An Engineering Study of the Last Inca Suspension Bridge.' 
  7. ^ "John Ochsendorf - MacArthur Foundation". Fulbright Program. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "A 2008 MacArthur Fellowship for John Ochsendorf, FAAR’08 in Historic Preservation and Conservation". Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Ochsendorf, John; Freeman, Michael (photographs) (2010). Guastavino vaulting : the art of structural tile. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1568987415. 
  10. ^ "(Homepage)". Palaces for the People: Guastavino and America's Great Public Spaces. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  11. ^ Ochsendorf, John. "(Homepage)". John Ochsendorf. Retrieved 2014-06-10. 
  12. ^ Annear, Steve (April 29, 2015). "MIT dedicates monument to Sean Collier". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  13. ^ Yoon, J. Meejin. "Project: Sean Collier Memorial". MIT Architecture. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  14. ^ a b c Dizikes, Peter (April 28, 2015). "New memorial a labor of love: Architects and engineers detail their novel design for MIT’s Collier Memorial". MIT News. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f Humphries, Courtney (May 22, 2015). "The Making of MIT's Collier Memorial". Architect: the journal of the American Institute of Architects. Hanley Wood Media. Retrieved 2015-07-08. 
  16. ^ Design Futures Council Senior Fellows[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]