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Geiger, David H.

David H. Geiger

Firm: Geiger Engineers

Geiger engineers (1988), formerly Geiger-Berger Associates (1968) was founded by David H. Geiger and Horst Berger to create a structure for the enclosure of the United States pavilion as part of the EXPO ’70 in Osaka, Japan. Because of this project, the invention of a cable-restrained air-supported roof arose. David H. Geiger was born in 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received a bachelors from Drexel University, masters from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and PhD in civil engineering from Columbia University. [2] Dr. Geiger was honored for his lifetime work by the American Institute of Architects in 1986, and in 1983 he received an award for innovation from the American Society of Civil Engineers. He was a former president of the New York Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that builds housing for the poor. [3] Geiger was an assistant professor at Columbia University at the time of his invention. His creation of the air-supported fabric roof system was significantly cheaper than the biggest fixed dome structure of the day: the Astrodome. Not only was his method cheaper, but David Geiger claimed that “there appears to be no maximum span for application of this type of roof”. [4] The critical change made by Geiger “was to give the roof a low and minimally sloped profile, with the shortest span of the oval shape nearly 13 times the roof’s rise. In doing so he was able to take advantage of a key aerodynamic principle” that the roof would only be subject to upward lift forces due to the wind. [5] After achieving more than a dozen patents on long-span roof systems, Geiger died from cardiac arrest at the age of 54 in Seoul, Korea. He published a few articles such as: “Light structures: tensile, space, pneumatic structures” [6].

First permanent air-supported fabric roof to cover a stadium, The Silverdome, in Pontiac, Michigan

Sketch of Geiger's inventive pavilion design

Other Selected Projects:

Interior of 1988 Olympic Gymnastics Arena- The first tensegrity type dome located in Seoul Korea (1986)

Connections for the air-supported roofs

5. “The Tensioned Fabric Roof” by: Craig G. Huntington, Published 2003
6. Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals (1934- current)


Written by Pilar Guerrero

January 27, 2011 at 6:10 am

Posted in Engineers