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Macfarlane, Tim

Timothy G. Macfarlane

Photo © Holcim Foundation

Engineering Specialties(1):
Structural Engineering
Glass Specialization

Tim Macfarlane has become well known throughout the world for his contributions to the development of glass engineering into architectural design applications. He is highly regarded as a lead innovator in structural glass advancement.

In 1985, the consulting structural engineering firm Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners was formed from a partnership between him and consulting engineer Lawrence Dewhurst, the Managing Partner of the company. As the Vice President and Design Partner of Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners, Macfarlane has worked with many remarkable architects and prominent engineers on various projects across the globe(1).

A project that significantly pioneered Macfarlane’s specialty in glass structures was the challenge of creating a glass canopy above the entrance of the Yūrakuchō’s underground train station in Tokyo, Japan. In 1995, Raphael Viñoly Architects designed the Tokyo International Forum with Structural Design Group Co. Ltd.
SDG’s structural engineer, Kunio Watanabe, was in the process of designing the cantilever with steel beams, but then switched to the idea of using supporting laminated glass beams instead. Watanabe then asked Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners for advice on the matter since the firm had some experience designing several glass structures(2).

Photos © Firman Glass

Because of the minimal knowledge of glass as a structural component, many engineers could not see glass as reliable building material. However, over the course of a week, Macfarlane sketched a probable solution using fully toughened glass that surprised the Tokyo project team. With further funding from the client, a series of physical experiments at a university laboratory were initiated to test and refine Macfarlane’s new structural design concept(3). This period of glass exploration led to the discovery of new structural techniques that bestowed Macfarlane several prestigious engineering awards and the completed Yūrakuchō glass canopy was praised for its unique ingenuity and success(4).

Photographs © Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)

Macfarlane received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. He has taught architectural students for 20 years at several places, including the Architectural Association in London, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and at the University of Chicago. Additionally, Macfarlane is currently a visiting instructor at Yale University and has been a lecturer for a class called Exploring Glass(5). He has been an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects(6), was given the distinction of being a Royal Designer for Industry by the British Royal Society of Arts for structural engineering design in 2004(7), and has been on the Global Jury for the Holcim Awards in 2006(8).


(1) Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners – About Us
(2) Firman Glass – Glass Breaking New Boundaries
(3) Macfarlane, Tim. Glass – The New Structural Engineering Material. London: Dewhurst Macfarlane, Print.
(4) Metropolis Magazine – Glass Ceiling
(5) Bulletin of Yale University – School of Architecture 2002-2003
(6) Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners – About Us – Partners – Tim Macfarlane
(7) RSA Projects – Current Royal Designers
(8) Holcim Awards Global Jury 2006 – Tim Macfarlane


Written by Tammy Pham

February 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Posted in Engineers

Glass Light and Special Structures

Selected Projects:

Apple Flagship Store
Bengt Sjostrom Starlight Theatre
TKTS Pavilion, Times Square
University of Chicago Graduate School of Business
New Student Centre, London School of Economics

Main Office:
London, UK

Additional Offices:

Structural Engineering
Façade Engineering
Structural Glass

Number of Employees: 28

Glass Light & Special Structures Limited, previously known as Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners, was founded by Tim Macfarlane in 1985. GL&SS project’s range from small bespoke sculptural assignments to major public buildings and has practiced in Asia, Asia Minor, North America and Europe. GL&SS’ exploration and innovative employment of glass as a medium in structural and façade engineering is internationally recognized, having won many awards on various projects.

Written by Tammy Pham

January 25, 2011 at 3:51 am

Posted in Engineers