Polymath, sort of strange and beautiful word. Sounds like the name of a geometrical figure, or like some esoteric science. Actually, the word is used to refer to a person. Not an ordinary person, for sure, but one who shows outstanding talents on several different fields. Leonardo da Vinci is the favorite example that encyclopedias like to use to describe a polymath. This word has been used, with justice, to refer to this extraordinary man who is the subject of my blog article today at this humble corner of the internet: Vladimir Shukhov.
This brilliant mind was able of creating original work in diverse areas such as structural analysis and systems, architecture, mathematics, ship engineering, industrial design, chemistry industry, pipe-lining, transportation, and photography. In the structural field, in particular, he is considered the pioneer of the hyperboloid structures for towers, silos, and roofs, and also the diagrid structures for covering large areas and holding tall buildings.
You might have seen these shining examples of the architecture of Norman Foster, as shown in the following image: from left to right: the Great Court of The British Museum, 1999; then “The Gherkin” building in London, 2003, and The Hearst Tower, in New York, 2006. These projects have something in common: their structures have deep roots on the work of a man from the previous centuries: Vladimir Shukhov, a heritage that Norman Foster has recognized and has campaigned for, trying to make the public understand that the work of Shukhov must be restored and preserved. (See notes 2 and 3 below).
More info: Planta1.com