L’Arc de Triomphe de L’Etoile

  1. Structure Information 

The Arc de Triomphe de L’Etoile was commissioned in 1806  by the French emperor Napoleon to commemorate the Grande Armee, the French army at the time. He wanted it to symbolize victory and the invincibility of the French army. He wanted his soldiers to walk victoriously through the arc on their way back to Paris. Construction began on Napoleon’s birthday on August 15the 1806 and ended in 1836, and it officially opened on  July 29th(1).

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "arc de triomphe"

Figure 1: Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile [3]

It is located in Paris at the end of the Champs Elysees, at Place Charles de Gaulle,  and is encircled by a huge traffic circle called l’etoile, meaning the star. This is where it gets its name from. It was designed by the French architect Jean Francois Therese Chalgrin (2) but he died in 1811.  Jean Nicholas Huyot continued the job of architect after his death (5). At the time of its completion, it cost 9.3 million francs(5). This was paid for by the autonomous amortization fund. Funds were disbursed from the “Grande Armee” at the beginning of each month for the erection of the monument.


  1. Historical Significance 

The design of the arc is based on the Roman Forum and is an example of Neoclassical architecture(1). The design was modernized by adding archways on each side and hollowing out the pillars to allow people to climb to the top (2). There is nothing structurally innovative in the design and did not employ any particular construction technique.  The inspiration for this arch was the  Arch of Titus, constructed in Rome is 81 AD. It is the best existing example of a victory arch. Arch of Titus. All the other victory arches have been inspired by the arch of Titus. The arch of Triomphe popularized the designed and brought it to the public eye. The arch of General Staff Building in Russia was built to mock the French and commemorate their defeat over Napoleon and took its inspiration from this arch.

Figure 2: Arch of Titus [6]


  1. Cultural Significance (10% of grade)

The Arc of Triumph is one of the most historical monuments in France. It has been the site of many historic moments. The arch was highly anticipated. At the time of its commissioning, France had gone through a series of major victories with Napoleon. The arch is one of three monuments commissioned by Napoleon to celebrate the French victories after his spectacular win at Austerlitz in 1805 (11). The other two are the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Vendôme Column. It was to be a symbol of their supremacy and invincibility to the world.  Its large scale and intricate designs were to be used to boast about their military strength and celebrate their winning strike. Fortunately, no one died during the construction of the arch. After Napoleon lost to the Russians and abdicated in 1814, work on the arch stopped. It wasn’t until 1830 that the citizen king Louis Phillipe, wanting to honor the revolution, ordered the arch to be completed.


Image result for arc de triomphe du carrousel near the louvre museum in paris

Figure 3: Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel


Image result for vendome column

Figure 4: Column Vendome


Today its used to honor those fallen for France. It is used to commemorate the French soldiers that died during world war one. In fact, buried underneath it is the tomb of the unknown soldier who died during the war. He was buried there on November 10th 1920 and on top of the tomb lies the inscription: “Here lies a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914-1918” (10).  Since 1923, an eternal flame burns at the center of the tomb. Each night at 6:30pm the flame is rekindled, this too in memory of fallen soldiers.


Image result for eternal flame arc de triomphe

Figure 5: Fallen soldier tomb with inscription and eternal flame

At its location,  Charles de Gaulle survived an assassination attempt and so did President of the time Jacques Chirac in 2002 (10).


  1. Structural Art 

In order to access if this is structural art, I will be looking at the E’s: economy, efficiency, and elegance.

First, let us take a look at the economy. The arch cost 9.3million french franc, which equals to 76.6 million dollars in 2015 (7). This is a lot of money, even back then the cost of the arch was seen to be astronomical. This is because the arch was not designed with economy in mind. It uses stone from Beaune in burgundy South of France (8) instead of cheaper materials like concrete.

Second, let us look at efficiency. First of all, there was no real need for this arch, it is purely decorative and commemorative.  Besides that, it has no other purpose. The arch itself is very thick, with large legs and is very heavy in decorations. Here again,  the arch was not designed to be efficient but to be beautiful and meaningful. It is important to note that it is hollowed out in the center, allowmg to save material.

Third, let us look at elegance. The arch is beautiful. It has intricate designs all around. I highly doubt that Billington would consider it elegant though. It does not really blend well with its surroundings and sticks out like a sore thumb. It is situated in the center on one of Paris’s largest roundabouts and its different architectural style, as well as massive size and thickness, does not allow it to merge with the distinct look of the city around it. In my opinion, the contrast between its surroundings and the arch adds to its beauty but does not do much for elegance.

This arch is in no way an example of structural art as it does not satisfy any of the three E’s.

Image result for arc de triomphe arch top view

Figure 6: Arch of Triumph sticking out [9]


  1. Structural Analysis (50% of grade)

The arch of triumph is a triumphal arch, meaning it is an archway structure characterized by one or more arched passages with large piers on its sides and a flat entablature and commemorative decorations or inscriptions. The Arch of Triumph has two vaults going through it: a large one and a smaller one. The piers are hollowed out to allow people to climb stairs to the top where there is an attic.

The initial design which was done in collaboration with a man named Jean Arnaud Raymond continued columns which was then discarded (as was Raymond). Columns would have had no structural purpose anyway. Foundations were started in 1806 (7) and took two years to be completed. Then they worked on the four piers. In 1811 when the main architect died, the piers were only 33ft above ground. By 1812, they rose all the way to the vaults but construction stopped due to the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte.  Construction resumed in 1832 and finally ended in 1836.

The structure is made of stone from Burgundy, France: limestone, and cobblestone. It is 164ft high and 148ft wide and 72ft deep with a foundation 27.5ft deep(2). Its large vault is 95.8ft high and 48ft wide. The smaller vault is 61.3ft high and 27.7ft wide. The entablature is supported by the four massive piers. The thickness of the piers allows to diminish the thrust forces from the arch. A similar principle to corbelling is applied here in a way. The thick walls on either side of the arch allow it to remain stable against all loading, preventing collapse.

For this structure, there are live loads associated with people visiting and climbing the structure.  The other loads we are dealing with are self-weight, and environmental loads such as snow and rain. The load travels from the crown to the arches then the arches distribute the forces to the piers and the piers to the ground. This is shown in figure 4 below. The crown is in tension, the piers and the arch are in compression.


Figure 7: Load Paths


I order to analyze this structure I will solely use self-weight and determine if it is safe to have people on the structure as they have been allowing tourists to the top these past years. The monument weighs 50 000 tons, and 100 000tons if you include the foundations. From this information, we can infer the tributary areas’ weight, calculate the load on each pier as well as the maximum force on the arches.




The maximum force on the arches is as shown. In case of a load larger than calculate the arches might fail under the weight. Now I will calculate the actual force on the and the maximum force on the piers in order to prevent buckling.

Based on these results we can conclude that it is safe to allow tourists to climb the structure as the load on the piers is very small compared to the critical buckling load.


The main stakeholder for this arch was Napoleon Bonaparte as he had ordered the construction of the arch by imperial decree. He wanted victorious soldiers to walk underneath the arch on their way home. Even though it was completed long after his death, he got the opportunity to live that experience in a way. A wooden model was erected for him and his new wife to cross after their wedding(1). This allowed him to see what the arc would look like once it was finished and to actually interact with the design since it was life-sized.

  1. Personal Response   

The arch is a lot larger in real life than I had realized. It is incredibly big, very large and high. Standing next to it made me feel like an ant or a shrunken person. It is definitely an imposing piece of architecture. Before visiting it I had assumed the car passed underneath the arch but they actually do not It is situated in the center of the roundabout and every car that passes by has a great view of the structure.

After visiting the structure I better understand how important of a role it plays in France’s history. You can not see it easily on pictures but the whole arch is decorated with very beautiful sculptures and inscriptions all around. It gives it a more solemn air and tugged a little at my heartstrings. It is a beautiful piece of culture with a beautiful message.



[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Arc-de-Triomphe

[2] http://www.arcdetriompheparis.com/

[3] https://www.ceetiz.fr/paris/arc-triomphe-e-billet-valable-toute-annee

[4] https://www.slideshare.net/KathrynReuter/a-brief-analysis-of-the-arc-de-triomphe-and-the-gateway-arch

[5] http://www.softschools.com/facts/europe/arc_de_triomphe_facts/2193/

[6] https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-unsubtle-critique-israel-gifts-unesco-replica-of-arch-of-titus/


[8] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/the-stones-of-paris-403115.html




The London Bridge (the real one)

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the current London Bridge is a big disappointment to whoever sees it. It does not appear to be special and looks awfully plain. No one would imagine that this is the bridge whose name conjures images of beauty and wonder and who, for most of my childhood, embodied the idea of London. I was disappointed, I will not lie, but through this blog, I will try to capture the magic surrounding this structure and show that this unassuming piece of concrete may deserve its fame.


1.  Structure Information

The London Bridge is very different from the Tower Bridge contrary to what Google seems to think. I have provided a picture of London Bridge in Figure 2 so that we may all be on the same page. I promise you, figure 2 really is the London Bridge.

Image result for london bridge

Figure 1: Tower Bridge, NOT LONDON BRIDGE







Related image

Figure 2: London Bridge (yeah I know :/)







The current London Bridge is actually the 3rd bridge officially of that name. It is referred to as the Modern London Bridge (1). It is located over the Thames River, between the city of London and Southwark and located between 2 other bridges that cross the Thames River: Cannon Street Railway Bridge and the famous Tower Bridge (see figure 1).

Construction for the bridge began in 1968 and ended in 1972 (1). The Modern London Bridge was opened in 1973. It was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II on March 17th of the same year (5).

The purpose of the Modern London Bridge was to replace the New London Bridge which had begun to sag. The bridge was sinking at a rate of an inch every eight years starting in 1896. By 1962, the problem was so prominent that the bridge had to be replaced (6); it was struggling to adapt to the higher traffic volumes of the 20th and upcoming 21st century.

The Modern London Bridge was designed by architect Lord Holdford, the engineers were Mott, Hay, and Anderson. The contractor was John Mowlem and Co (7). It cost £4 million at the time which equals to about £51.9million today (There was crazy inflation!). The costs were covered by the Bridge House Estate Charity.

Figure 3: London Bridge


2. Historical Significance

By the time the Modern London Bridge was constructed and opened to the public in 1973, many innovations had already been made in bridge design, especially in prestressed concrete. This bridge sadly did not contribute to any and this bridge did not serve as a model for any other bridges. The innovative part of this bridge is found during its construction. The bride was constructed using the cantilever method (1). They completed the span of the bridge by placing a concrete beam between the two cantilevered parts of the bridge. It represented a major innovation in bridge engineering post World War II. Yet this was not the first time someone had used this method. David P Billington himself said that the bridge itself is not of great historical significance(1). It mainly used existing innovative construction methods. It also used the hollow box girder previously developed by Maillard. The best existing example for that would be the Salginatoble bridge of 1929 and prestressing concrete, an innovation inspired by Freyssinet’s work.


3. Cultural Significance

The London Bridge has a long history. In fact, London Bridge is the name of any bridge that was constructed in the area. The first bridge had been built by the Romans around 55 AD. The majority of the first London bridges were made of wood. It was not until 1176 that the first stone London’s construction started thanks to the work of a priest of St Mary’s of Colechurch (1). This bridge, referred to as the Old London Bridge opened in 1209 and was the site of calamities.

It became an important commercial site and over time it also became a business and residential area (It still amazes me how they were able to fit houses on this bridge). Anyway, there were shops, houses on the shops (138 premises were recorded in 1358), walkways and rooms extending about everywhere. It got so bad that the bridge started to resemble a tunnel. At some point, watermills were added to the mix (in the 1580s) (1). The roadway was narrowed down to 12ft – this was used by carriages, travelers, merchants, and commuters. Somehow this chaos survived one fire in 1212 that killed 3000people (1), the collapse of 5 of its arches in 1282 and it wasn’t until 1762 that plans were made to remodel this bridge. This is the bridge that inspired the nursery rhyme ” London Bridge”.

Old London Bridge, lithograph after a manuscript illumination of c. 1500 in the British Library (Royal M.S.S.16.F.ii.XV.) .

Figure 4: Old London Bridge

By 1722, all the houses were removed to and the city decided to try and improve the bridge. This proved to be too much of a burden and they commisioned a renowned engineer, John Rennie to construct a new structure a few feet upstream (1).  The old one was demolished in 1831 after 622 years of use (Holy Moly!). It had seen most of London’s historic events and occupied an important place in the city of London. The new design would be known as the New London Bridge. The new London Bridge only lasted 140 years. The most interesting fact about this bridge is that is was dismantled and shipped to the United States Lake Havasu City in Arizona for a tourist attraction. It was sold to the millionnaire Robert McCulloch for 2.460 million dollars. He spent an additional seven million to build it (10). The Modern London Bridge was the site of a terrorist attack that injured 48 people and killing three on June 3rd, 2017. Three terrorists used a rented van to run over pedestrians on the bridge.


4. Structural Art

In order to determine if this is structural art, I will be looking at the three E’s economy, efficiency, and elegance and applying them to the structure.

This structure is elegant enough in its shape.  It is aesthetically pleasing and easily integrates itself with the surrounding environment. The concrete works well with the Thames River and it easily merges with the other buildings. Looking at it, it is hard to distinguish where exactly it begins and where it ends. The design is light and fluid, the deck is very thin and the arches are very wide. The abutments too are very narrow and integrate themselves well in the design  Nothing looks excessively bulky or out of place in this bridge; it is rather plain for my taste but I must admit that the elements work well together. The main issue with this bridge is that it is not exciting and does not inspire awe because of how plain it is, however, this bridge does have elegance.

The bridge cost £4 million at the time which equals to about £51.9million today with inflation. Comparing it with the Waterloo bridge that has a somewhat similar style, that cost around 1.3million in 1877 which equals to about 145 million today(8), we can conclude that the bridge’s price was reasonable. It was built using methods to reduce the price: hollow box girder, prestressed concrete, and thin overall bridge to reduce material.

The Modern London Bridge is a very efficient bridge. It was built with efficiency in mind to some extent. It does not have any superfluous unnecessary elements such as excessive decorations or facades and was built to be as slender and simple as possible. The main criterion for this bridge was for it to be simple and functional. They were looking for something to replace the old bridge and did not care much for anything else besides functionality. The bridge is very thin, due to its wide span arches as well as the use of a hollow box girder. The abutments are very thin and long, allowing for less use of material than if the arches were to continue all the way down. The bridge is made out of concrete which is a relatively cheap material, and it is prestressed allowing for the use of even less material.

I will qualify this bridge as structural art. It is very efficient, it possesses some elegance and was constructed at a reasonable price.  The three E’s are met.


5. Structural Analysis

The London Bridge is made of three prestressed-concrete box girders. It is 882.5ft long and 105ft wide. It has a minimum vertical clearance of 26.9ft. The bridge was constructed using the cantilever method. Construction started on both sides. Starting from the piers, segments were built and connect to the previous using high strength steel tendons. The two halves of the bridge were connected by a beam of concrete. The bridge had a very interesting construction process. The old bridge was used partly throughout the construction of the new one. They built the new bridge next to the old one and demolished the old one as they were constructing the new one. Construction began with workers excavating giant shafts under the existing bridge. At that point, the balustrades of the old bridge were taken down and a truss structure was built no the side of the bridge.  On this structure were assembled twin celled precast concrete box units (11). This was repeated on the other side of the bridge. The system is illustrated in Figure 5.  The old bridge was then demolished with spandrel and infills removed first. The gantry truss was used for the final two girder boxes on the new design.


Figure 5: Construction of twin-celled precast concrete box units over the river


The weight of the bridge, as well as the live loads acting on the bridge, are supported by the arches. The load travels down the arches and into the abutments then the foundation and then into the ground as can be seen in figure 4. It is important to note that arches generate thrust forces due to the tendency of arches to want to spread. This design has three repeating arches which cancel the thrust forces with the bridge. the remaining thrust forces are carried horizontally into the ground at the point where the bridge deck connects with the ground.


Figure 4: Load Paths

In order to analyze this bridge, we will be only using the dead weight of the bridge and we will be assuming an area load of 480lb/ft^2 (11). We will base our calculations on the central arch which has the largest span.  We will also be using the density of concrete: 150lb/ft^3. The span of the central arch is 109 ft and vertical clearance is 29.6ft (ref fig.5) and a width of 105ft. We will calculate the maximum force on the abutment at A.

Figure 6: Simplified load distribution


I was not able to find the thickness of the hollow box girder so I will be assuming a thickness of 1 foot.

w = (150lb/ft3 * 1ft+480lb/ft2) *105ft =66,150lb/ft

Sum of the forces in Y direction = 0

RAy = RBy = w*109/2 = 7,210.4k/2=3,605.2k

Sum of the forces in the y-direction

Make a cut at the center where h is max

Figure 7: Cut at the middle where h is max


Resultant = d*w= w*109/2 = 7,210.4k/2=3,605.2k

Sum of the moments about O = 0

0= RAy (109/2) – RAx(26.9) – Res (109/4)

0= 3605.2k(54.5) – RAx(26.9) – 3605.2k(27.25)

RAx = 3,652.1k = RBx

Force A = (3652.1^2 + 3605.2^2)^1/2 = 5,131.8k

By finding the maximum force on A we now know the maximum load that the abutments can take and help prevent the collapse of the arch. It is important to determine the maximum force as it will also allow to determine the maximum weight of trucks crossing the bridge.


The design of the bridge was chosen by a competition. The judges were mainly looking for a simple, functional bridge that was easy to maintain and that did not cost too much. The designers communicated their design to the judges by sending the schematics and plans. Upon examining these schematics, here is what some of the judges said: “The designers selected concrete for its low- maintenance characteristics and visual sympathy to its surroundings” (7) and “the bridge is a testament to both careful design and construction”(7). They appreciated the simplicity of the design.

Figure 5: Schematic of London Bridge Design [8]

6. Personal Response

Looking at the London Bridge for the first time can be a bit ( a lot) of a disappointment. It is beyond simple with its monochromatic facade, its lack of decoration and plain arches. It is all GREY. I believe that says it all. We have been blessed by so many marvelous pieces of structural art, that we sometimes fail to appreciate the simplicity of certain designs. The London Bridge may not be the prettiest (by far) or the most intricate design for a bridge but it carries its beauty in its history. With such an amazing background. it does not need much pump or circumstances to be important. Its importance goes much deeper then its aesthetics and if people took the time to learn more about it, I think they would be impressed. When you see a billionaire walking across the street, you will not see him in colorful, boisterous clothing with shiny and obviously expensive watches. He or she will easily blend in the crowd, he or she might even seem underdressed because they have reached a point where they have nothing more to prove. They are rich beyond comprehension and do not approval from anyone to know that they have achieved something wonderful in life.  I believe the London Bridge is making the same statement. Seeing it was very anticlimactic, but the more I researched it the more I realized that it did not need much to be fantastic.



[1] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Old-London-Bridge

[2] https://www.londonpass.com/attractions-london-bridge.html

[3] http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2630157

[4] http://projectbritain.com/london/bridges.ht

[5] https://uk.news.yahoo.com/on-this-day-queen-elizabeth-ii-opens-london-bridge-1973-121915868.html?guccounter=1

[6] https://www.citylab.com/design/2013/10/how-original-london-bridge-ended-arizona/7200/

[7] https://web.archive.org/web/20120420230132/http://www.buildingtalk.com/news/cyl/cyl123.html

[8] http://happypontist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/

[9] https://www.officialdata.org/1877-GBP-in-2018?amount=1300000

[10] https://www.citylab.com/design/2013/10/how-original-london-bridge-ended-arizona/7200/

[11] https://www.inti.gob.ar/cirsoc/pdf/puentes_hormigon/25-Lecture06-Design%20loads.pdf

The Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

As I was watching Elle Woods (in the movie Legally Blonde) fiercely climb the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and find the courage to pursue her dreams while gazing into the strong stare of Lincoln on his throne, I knew at that moment that I too wanted to live out a dramatic scene on those stairs and experience the majestic strength that emanated from that structure.

The statue itself is magnificent but what really grabs attention and allows the structure to truly shine is the house where the structure sites. Its high columns give Lincoln a regal, majestic almost celestial feel. The large scale of the memorial, the height, the thickness of the columns and the stark white of the marble give me the impression that it is almost sitting on clouds. It is, in my opinion, a piece of architectural art; but is it structural art? Keep reading to find the answer. 

I did not grow up in the United States and all I ever knew about Lincoln was from the embarrassing amount of television dramas that my mom (me really) watches. Through this blog post, I had the opportunity to learn more about this great man as well as the structure used to remember him. Lincoln was a man of honor who served his country like no other and died in a most tragic way. It only seemed right that he may be remembered in a structure as grand as he was.

Related image

Figure 1: The Lincoln Memorial looking as though it sits on clouds [2]

Structure Information

Ever since Lincoln’s death in 1865, Congress had been toying with the idea of having built a monument in his honor. It was not until 1911 though that Congress gathered enough funds to commission the memorial. They approved, $2 million dollars (3) bill (in today’s money) and created a commission that was headed by President Taft to oversee the project. Construction started on February 12th, 1914, (Lincoln’s birthday) and the memorial was dedicated on May 30th, 1922. It is located at West Potomac Park at the western end on the national mall in Washington DC The Lincoln memorial is actually across from the Washington Monument for those who have never been (shame on you!).

The memorial ended costing $2,957,000 and the statue $88,400 for a total cost of $3,045,400. The structure includes 3 chambers with the statue resting in the central one. The purpose of this building is to commemorate the 16th president of the united states, Abraham Lincoln who was tragically assassinated in 1865. It is a historical site and a tourist attraction.

Three people contributed to the design, each acting in different part. The architect of the memorial was famous French architect of the time Henry Bacon (3). The murals feature intricate artwork done by Jules Guerin and the statue itself was carved by artist, Daniel Chester French.

Image result for lincoln memorial structure

Figure 2: Lincoln Memorial [4]

  1. Historical Significance 

Nothing about the Lincoln memorial ‘s structural design is particularly innovative. It was built to be reminiscent of old Greek temples, but with a modern twist. I doubt that this will be a model for future buildings due to its symbolic nature and its use of old structural themes.


Image result for greek parthenon

Figure 3: Ruins of Parthenon in Acropolis, Athens, Greece [6]

  1. Cultural Significance 

The Lincoln memorial today stands as an iconic symbol of America. Its representation can be found on the back of 5-dollar bill (I have provided a picture for those who forgot what money looks like). It was also found at the back of pennies. As Lincoln abolished slavery, his memorial played an important role in the civil rights movement. It served as a place of protest, it was a part of the March on Washington in 1963 and the place that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. It hosted the Easter Sunday Concert (9) a major event for the civil rights movement too.

Figure 4: penny [11]


Figure 5: 5 dollar bill showing memorial [12]

As stated previously, the design was based on Greek Parthenian temple. You might wonder what Greece has to do with the United States.  Don’t worry you are not the first to ask such a question. When the design was first released it received great criticism for architects all over the United States. Many detested the designed and the fact that it was based on old Greek architecture. A certain architect, Lewis Mumford, went as far as to say it reminded him of the “mortuary air of archeology” (5). Bacon justified his choice saying he saw Greece as a symbol of democracy, which is what Lincoln embodied to him (3).

  1. Structural Art 

When first looking at this building and seeing the strong columns one may confuse certain elements with structural art. Though the load path on the columns may seem clear, there are many more columns then needed to support the weight of the roof- the number was a purely aesthetic choice. This structure was not designed by an engineer but by an architect, its sole purpose was to carry its own weight and the weight of its statue. Although it has a beautiful historic significance in most of its design features, none of the elements designed for the memorial were chosen based on economy or efficiency, two key components to structural art.  Throughout the construction process, reinforcements were added as needed, almost on a trail error basis. There is very little correlation between design and efficiency or even economy.  There are too many decorations and superfluous elements for this to be considered structural art.

For the structural analysis I will only be analyzing the outside structure which houses the statue and not the statue.

The materials used were to emulate the unity of the country. The chose materials from all over the 36 states: granite from Massachusetts for the terrace, marble form Colorado for the upper steps and outside facade, pink marble from Tennessee for the floor of the chambers, limestone form Indiana on interior walls and columns of the chamber, marble from Alabama for ceiling tiles and the statue itself was carved from Georgia marble (1). The structure also has 36 columns to represent the 36 existing states of the time.


Most of the load of the system is carried through its foundation. The foundation is very deep and constitutes about 40% of the structure. The foundation is made of concrete and is 44 to 66 (1) feet deep. The foundation needed to be very deep to support the weight of the memorial and that of the marble structure. It is enclosed by granite retaining walls.

For this analysis we will assume that the entirety of the weight of the exterior roof is supported by all 36 columns and the walls. In reality, most of the columns support zero to few loads. The columns are in compression and transfer 36 point loads to the foundations.  For the interior structure, the weight is supported by the 5 walls. The interior structures transfer a uniform surface load onto the foundation. The foundation receives the 36 points loads as well as the uniformly distributed surface loads. It is important to note that the foundation bears the entirety of the load.



Figure 6: Wall Load Paths

Figure 7: Column Load Paths


Given information(1)

Foundation of building: 44 to 65 feet from original grade to bedrock.

Total width of building north to south: 201 feet 10 inches at widest point.

Total depth of building east to west: 132 feet at widest point.

Memorial weight: 76,000,000 pounds.

Given that the total weight of the memorial is known, we will treat it as a surface load onto the foundation.

Given a height of 44’, a length of 201’10” and width of 132’, the dead weight load is 64.8lb/ft^3.

Figure 9: Simplified drawing of foundation


Figure 9: Tributary area and load


Solving for R1 and R2

W = 64.8lb/ft^3 * 132ft * 44ft =376.42k/ft

Sum of Forces in Y:

R1+ R2 = 376.42k/lb * 201ft 10in = 76 000 k

Sum of Moment about A

R2 (201’10”)-76000k(201’10”/2)=0

R2= 38 000k

R1 = 38 000k


Figure 8: Shear and Bending Moment Diagrams

The max shear is 38 000k

The max moment is  15,344,400k ft.


Now that we have analyzed the system let us look at why congress found thiss design appealing.

One of the reasons this design was kept is because it aligned with the aesthetic conservatism (3) ideas of congress. President  Taft was largely conservative. Congress wanted to commemorate Lincoln but did not want an overly complicated design. The design by Bacon displayed a Greek like structure  with large central court and flanking sanctuaries that would contain “ a statue of heroic size expressing Lincoln’s humane personally and memorials of his two speeches” (7). One of the rejected designs had taken inspiration from the pyramids and was seen as overly complicated. Initially there was more interest in the statue, the building was actually built with a plaster model of the statue in it to make sure it would fit. Upon realizing the unusually large scale of the memorial, a larger statue had to be ordered.


Figure 9: One of the originals plans of the Lincoln Memorial [10]

Figure 10: Floor Plan [10]


6. Personal Response

In April 2016, I finally had the honor to visit this structure and experience its magic with my two eyes. My first impression that there was a whole lot of people! In fact, there were so many people that I could not see Lincoln properly. All my pictures were photo bombed by random people, I got hit, pushed, yelled at and tousled like a bag of potatoes. The structure itself was much bigger than I had imagined and as impressive.





[3] https://traveldigg.com/lincoln-memorial/



[6] https://www.pinterest.com/pin/166422148706667374/