Othmar H. Ammann (1879 to 1965)
Othmar Ammann began a renowned career in bridge engineering after immigrating to New York City from Switzerland in 1904. Working with Gustav Lindenthal in 1912, Ammann was the Assistant Chief Engineer for the Hell Gate and Sciotoville Bridges. A conceptual design for the George Washington Bridge in 1921 earned Ammann employment with the New York Port Authority. Under his direction, this famous Hudson River crossing was completed in 1931, six months ahead of schedule and under budget. Ammann served as the Port Authority’s Director of Engineering until 1939 where he oversaw construction of the Goethals and Outerbridge Crossing Bridges and the Lincoln Tunnel. While serving at the Port Authority in 1934, Robert Moses retained Ammann to also serve as Chief Engineer for the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) where he engineered the Triborough and Bronx-Whitestone Bridges. With his impressive reputation in bridge engineering, Ammann was invited to serve on the board of engineers for the Golden Gate Bridge in California and held consulting roles on many other bridges. In 1939, Ammann resigned from the Port Authority and TBTA to pursue a career as a private consulting engineer.
Charles S. Whitney (1892 to 1959)
After graduating from Cornell University in 1915, Charles Whitney founded a successful consulting engineering practice in Milwaukee, WI. Services were provided in the planning, design and construction supervision of structures and municipal projects including bridges, highways, buildings and special structures. Whitney was well known for the development of the plastic theory and ultimate strength methods of reinforced concrete design, and long-span, thin-shell structures. He was the author of many engineering-related books and articles and was particularly active with the American Concrete Institute throughout his career, serving as its President in 1955. Whitney contributed numerous technical papers to advance the design of concrete structures. The Whitney Stress Block, a cornerstone of American concrete design since its adoption in 1956, was named after Charles Whitney. Whitney’s research and papers contributed to the ACI Standards now titled “The Manual of Concrete Practice.” Charles Whitney authored “Bridges of the World: Their Design and Construction” and “Bridges: Their Art, Science and Evolution,” both published in 1929.
Ammann & Whitney…in Partnership
Othmar Ammann and Charles Whitney’s paths first crossed in 1914 when they both worked on the Hell Gate Bridge with Gustav Lindenthal. By 1946, when they joined forces, both were operating successful consulting engineering practices and had well-established reputations in their areas of expertise. Ammann, already renowned for his engineering design excellence in long-span suspension bridges, led the firm’s engineering efforts on the Throgs Neck and Verrazano Narrows Bridges and also designed the Walt Whitman Bridge and Wards Island Vertical Lift Bridge. He remained an active partner of the firm until his death. Since then, Ammann & Whitney has continued to provide inspection and rehabilitation design services on the Ammann-designed bridges as well as many others. Whitney led the firm’s building, special structures and overseas practices. He established the firm’s practice in blast resistant structures and military/federal work and directed studies of blast resistant structures for the US Army and Federal Civil Defense Administration, and co-authored “Design of Blast Resistant Construction for Atomic Explosions” receiving ACI’s award for most meritorious paper. Whitney continued his research and development of concrete structures, including unique thin-shell structures such as the American Airlines hangar at Chicago’s Midway Airport. He remained an active partner leading many of the firm’s building projects until his death.