Staff Picks: Mark D'amato

Staff Picks of Amazing Structures from Around the World

We asked our principals what their favorite structures are on Earth. We first asked Mark D’Amato to give us his list of choices and share his personal stories. Check out what he picked and learn interesting structural facts along the way.

Empire State Building: Mark’s first visit to The Empire State Building was when he was just five years old. The building’s height left quite an impression on the young engineer-to-be, primarily because of his mother’s exclamations while on the observation deck.

“Oh, the people look like ants!” Mark remembered her saying. “Of course, I took her literally. I thought it was strange that we had been transported to a place where people turned into ants below us. As I looked, I just saw tiny cars and people - but no ants.”

The iconic 1931 Empire State Building contains 60,000 tons of structural steel and soars 1,454 feet (from the base to the antenna) above Manhattan. The original structural engineer was Homer Gage Balcom, a U.S. pioneer in designing tall buildings to withstand lateral wind loads. From 2009 to 2011, the “World’s Most Famous Office Building” underwent an ambitious sustainability retrofit campaign. One of the energy savings recommendations was to maximize natural light entering into the building. The project team reduced the number of interior wall enclosures and opened up the floor layouts since the building’s central core design allowed for such modifications. The retrofit program has become a replicable integrated sustainability model for other developers and governments to apply. The success has also proven to the global community that sustainability is economically feasible and the ROI is indeed a reality.

Statue of Liberty: While living in the Middle East, Mark appreciated the Statue of Liberty more and more during his trips back to the U.S.

“I would always look for her welcoming appearance as representing the USA’s grandeur and everything else that I loved about our country,” he said. “Including its hamburgers and milkshakes.”

“Lady Liberty is an inspirational work of art and structure,” Mark added. “It continues to stand the test of time and to serve as the iconic symbol of hope for many people in the world today.”

Lady Liberty’s sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi hired structural engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel to become the project internal designer. The Statue of Liberty is as tall as a 22-story building and is covered with 300 sheets of copper that are 3/32 of an inch thick (less than the thickness of two pennies). Eiffel designed the statue’s flexible, wrought-iron skeletal system to support the copper skin. He also engineered the primary structure’s central pylon which gives the statue elasticity during strong ocean wind gusts. In 50 mph winds, Lady Liberty can sway up to three inches and her arm carrying the torch can sway up to six inches.

Santa Maria Del Fiore’s Duomo (Florence, Italy): Mark cannot hold back his amazement and admiration for Filippo Brunelleschi, the designer who won a competition to build a Renaissance-era dome for the existing Gothic-style Santa Maria Del Fiore. Brunelleschi accomplished an eight-sided dome with no true center by building an interior nested dome. The design called for connecting the inner and outer domes with vertical brick arches. The arches intersect with the dome’s multi-level rings made of stone and wood which kept the 374-foot tall structure from expanding outward. There wasn’t a central support system used during construction, so the masonry had to support itself. He instructed the builders to lace the bricks in a herringbone pattern, eventually spiraling all the way to the top of the dome. It took 4 million bricks to complete the dome’s construction.

“Brunelleschi was a true Renaissance man,” Mark said. “Among his many scientific and engineering contributions of the time was a gift to the architectural world: the development of perspective drawing.”

Next time on the blog, discover Guy Conversano’s favorite structures in the world.

About the author

Rose Bechtold

Rose Bechtold, Communications Specialist | Rose comes from a journalism and technical writing background. She is in her element while in research mode and naturally immerses herself in expert knowledge by interviewing staff members about new subjects. In her spare time, Rose practices plein-air sketching of buildings and random scenes around town.

Share this article
linkedIn facebook twitter

Latest news

See all
Wood20 Feature20 Image

Seattle's Skyline Set to Go Green:

Argyle Black and White Textures

DCI Announces Several Firm-Wide Principal Promotions

Dallas Aerial Erin Oct 2023 7 web

We’re Going Big(ger) in Texas