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Rankine Lecture reveals the power of 3D modelling

Arup director Nick O’Riordan demonstrated the power of finite element modelling to understand and explain complex geotechnical challenges during delivery of his Rankine Lecture last night.

nick oriordan

Read GE’s full interview with Nick O’Riordan here

O’Riordan delivered the 58th Rankine Lecture on the topic of Dynamic soil-structure interaction: understanding the Holocene and instrumenting the Anthropocene to an audience of over 900 at Imperial College, London yesterday.

O’Riordan used examples from his career in geotechnical to look at how numerical modelling has helped to understand the challenges of working in a dense urban environment.

Case studies analysed included the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, US where deep excavations were undertaken close to high rise buildings and finite element analysis was key to understanding the impact of earthquake loading both in the temporary and permanent state. O’Riordan also discussed his recent work on the Mexico City Airport which is being built on a greenfield site with soft clays from a former lake bed and compared the ground conditions with those nearby within the city where urbanisation has affected the reaction of the ground to earthquake loading.

“Through advanced unified soil models and increased computing power, we now have the tools to articulate effects of extreme events on foundations to clients,” he said.

O’Riordan believes that development of such techniques was key to convincing the client that the foundation design for the new Mexico City Airport was viable.

Nonetheless, O’Riordan said that developing resilient structures for the future requires greater feedback from performance foundation systems in order to further optimise design.

More than 300 people attended a dinner following the lecture where a prize raffle raised almost £3,000 to be divided between RedR and the BGA Fund. A further £1,000, which was awarded to the Pisa project by Cementation Skanska for winning the 2017 Fleming Award was donated to RedR at the event.

Following the dinner, the 59th Rankine Lecturer was confirmed as National Technical University of Athens professor of soil mechanics and dynamics George Gazetas. Gazetas will deliver his lecture on 20 March 2019 at Imperial College, London.

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