Ove Arup: The Philosopher Engineer, directed by the talented Taghi Amirani, is a new documentary exploring the life of legendary 20th century structural engineer Ove Arup. WDA’s Michelle Liu recently attended a screening of this film at the Autodesk showroom in San Francisco. After the viewing, Amirani discussed the making of this film, which traces Arup’s inspiring accomplishments in structural design. Born in Newcastle, England in 1895, Ove Arup earned an engineering degree from the Technical University of Denmark and began his career at Christiani & Nielson. In 1946, he collected a team of civil and structural engineers together in his newly-formed partnership with Ronald Jenkins, Geoffrey Wood and Andrew Young. This multi-disciplinary firm, which provided an array of services for the building world, was named Arup. After joining the team working on the Sydney opera house in 1957, Ove Arup’s innovative work became recognized globally and put Arup on the map as a leading structural firm. Ove Arup’s legacy lives on today in Arup, whose 13,000 employees provide a wide range of planning, engineering, design, and technical services across the globe.

Reflecting on the documentary, Michelle was inspired by Ove Arup’s passion for the art of discovery, the fun of solving problems, and the “a-ha” moment of reaching a solution. He was a perfectionist who believed that excellence must be the main objective in any project. Michelle was also moved by Ove’s commitment to following his heart and gut. Learning more about Ove Arup has expanded Michelle’s view on her own practice: while the architect’s ultimate goal is to find solutions, it’s essential to enjoy the problem-solving journey along the way.
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