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Buro Happold was founded by Ted Happold and seven other partners on May 1st, 1976. Based in Bath, the original structural engineering practice specialized in lightweight structural systems. In that same year, the firm won its first major commission. KOCOMMAS – the Kings Office, Council of Ministers and Majlis Al Shura Central Government complex in Riyadh – “involved structural and civil engineering design of the principal buildings, roads and car parks, including some very complex roof and shade structures.”
Since then, Buro Happold has been involved in a variety of high profile projects, including the design of eight iconic umbrellas for Pink Floyd. In 1999, construction of the Buro-Happold-designed Millenium Dome was completed, and the structure was called “[o]ne of the most recognized – and talked about – landmarks in the UK.” Buro Happold “was awarded the prestigious MacRobert Award for its innovative design of the 320m cable net roof – the largest structure of its kind in the world.” In the early 2000s, Buro Happold returned to the Millennium Dome to engineer the now iconic O2 Arena within the existing structure. The O2 Arena is now one of the most popular arenas in the world and is notable for the wide range of events it hosts – from huge concerts to Olympic gymnastics events.
Buro Happold provides a wide range of services across nearly every industry sector. In addition to Integrated Design, the firm offers design and assessment services at both the building and the city scale. The company has grown immensely and currently has a turnover of more than £50 million.
Millennium Experience (2012)
Olympic Stadium (2012)
Edmund “Ted” Happold
Died: January 12, 1996
Ted Happold once said, “[A] world which sees art and engineering as divided is not seeing the world as a whole,” and such a statement is what defined the structural engineer’s life and career. He was born to a serious and academic Quaker family. His father was the first Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Leeds and held a Masters degree, PhD, and Doctor of Science. His mother took degrees in both economics and history, was a founding member of the Youth Hostels Association, and took in many refugees at the beginning of World War II.
Happold became a student at the Department of Geology at the University of Leeds in 1949. A year later, he volunteered to completely construct the foundations of a large portable greenhouse. “The adrenaline rush proved intoxicating,” and, soon afterward, Ted Happold applied and was accepted by Sir Robert McAlpine as a junior engineer.
Ted Happold returned to the University of Leeds in 1954, but studied within the Department of Civil Engineering instead of the Department of Geology. In 1958, he received a BS with honors in Civil Engineering and, shortly after, traveled Finland, Sweden, and Denmark to study modern architectural engineering.
During the next few years, Ted Happold worked for the architect Alvar Aalto and Ove Arup and Partners while studying architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the evenings. During this time period, he worked on projects such as the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Center.
In 1967, Ted Happold met his wife, Eve. The wedding was held in the Hollamby/Happold extension of the West Norwood Library, “and from that moment on the real partnership of life began.”
The University of Bath offered the Chair of Building Engineering to Ted in 1976, giving him “the opportunity to develop a joint school of architecture and engineering”. Soon afterward, Ted Happold founded Buro Happold with seven other partners on May 1st, 1976. The original structural engineering practice was set up in Bath and specialized in lightweight structural systems.
According to Buro Happold’s website, Ted Happold passed away on January 12th, 1996. Although a great man has passed from the fields of architecture and engineering, “[h]is inspiration…lives on in the University of Bath and within the various design offices of Buro Happold.”
[Any information, unless otherwise stated, about Ted Happold is taken from Happold: The Confidence to Build by Derek Walker and Bill Addis.]