William LeMessurier

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William LeMessurier
Born(1926-06-12)June 12, 1926
DiedJune 14, 2007(2007-06-14) (aged 81)
EducationHarvard College (AB 1947); Harvard Graduate School of Design; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SM 1953)
OccupationStructural engineer, Architect, Professor
Known forStructural Engineering

William "Bill" James LeMessurier, Jr. (/ləˈmɛʒər/; June 12, 1926 – June 14, 2007) was a prominent American structural engineer.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Pontiac, Michigan, Bill was the youngest of four children of Bertha (Sherman) and William James LeMessurier Sr., owners of a dry cleaning business. After finishing high school, he left Michigan to major in Mathematics at Harvard College. He graduated with an AB in Mathematics in 1947, then went to Harvard Graduate School of Design. He later transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned his Master's Degree in building engineering and construction in 1953.[1][2]


While at MIT, LeMessurier worked for Albert Goldberg, an established Boston structural engineer; eventually LeMessurier became a partner and the firm was renamed Goldberg-LeMessurier Associates. In April 1961, the two separated and Bill launched his firm LeMessurier Consultants.[3]

LeMessurier was responsible for the structural engineering on a large number of prominent buildings, including Boston City Hall, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Singapore Treasury Building, and the Dallas Main Center.

LeMessurier is perhaps best known for his role during the Citicorp Center engineering crisis, when he secretly reassessed his calculations on the Citicorp headquarters tower in New York City after the building had been finished in 1977. In June 1978, Princeton University engineering student Diane Hartley contacted LeMessurier after she calculated winds that could topple the building under certain circumstances.[4] After assuaging her concerns, he did his own calculations and found that as a cost-saving change the contractor had replaced welded joints with potentially weaker bolts. This discovery triggered a hurried, clandestine retrofit which was described in a 1995 article in The New Yorker entitled "The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis".[5] The case is now an ethical case-study in architectural degree programs.[6]


He was awarded the AIA Allied Professions Medal in 1968, elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1978, elected an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects in 1988, and elected an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1989.[3] In 2004, he was elevated to National Honor Member of Chi Epsilon, the national civil engineering honor society.


LeMessurier died in Casco, Maine on June 14, 2007 as a result of complications after surgery he underwent on June 1 after a fall the day before.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William LeMessurier: Builder of Elegant Cutting-edge Structures
  2. ^ MIT Spectrum
  3. ^ a b Harvard Design School Faculty Archived 2006-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ McGinn, Robert (2018). The Ethical Engineer: Contemporary Concepts and Cases. Princeton University Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-4008-8910-5. According to The New Yorker in 1995, an unidentified male student at a New Jersey college approached LeMessurier about the problem, but the engineer initially dismissed its existence before deciding to recalculate the loads.
  5. ^ Morgenstern, Joe (May 29, 1995). "The Fifty-Nine-Story Crisis". The New Yorker. pp. 45–53.
  6. ^ Delatte, Norbert. "Citicorp case study". University of Alabama. Retrieved November 22, 2009.
  7. ^ Ramirez, Anthony (June 21, 2007). "William LeMessurier, 81, Structural Engineer, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2014.

External links[edit]