It was a rare opportunity to be in the same room with renowned engineers SawTeen See and Dr Leslie Robertson, and the audience knew it. At the talk organised by Surbana Jurong Group’s SJ Academy last month, Surbana Jurong’s Collaboration Hub was packed with both its employees and senior industry partners from the public and private sector who had gathered to listen to the dynamo couple talk about the iconic towers they have worked on.
The engineers, who helm their US firm See Robertson Structural Engineers, shared with fervour their insights on the structural challenges and innovative solutions applied to those structures, as well as some interesting stories behind them.
Ms See explained how when they were working on the Shanghai World Financial Center, for example, apart from taking into consideration structural robustness, wind speed and engineering at build phase, they also had to contend with a change in design – from a circular cut-out at the tower top to a trapezoid – because Chinese critics said the circle reminded them too much of Japan’s Rising Sun symbol.
The Bellevue Hospital of New York and its expansion was another interesting project that involved plans for earthquake loads, and gave care to the social and economic environment.
Closer to their hearts is the iconic Twin Towers of New York, of which Dr Robertson was the lead structural engineer. After the 9/11 tragedy, Ms See and he saw through the rebuilding of 4 World Trade Center, the first to be completed in the complex of new towers at Ground Zero.