Department of

Civil and Environmental Engineering



Kavanagh Lecture - Biographical Sketch

The Fifth Annual Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture

April 3, 1997

7:30 pm

Applied Research Laboratory Auditorium

Why Worry about Natural Disasters?


Dr. Alan G. Davenport
Professor of Civil Engineering
Director, Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory
University of Western Ontario


Dr. Alan G. Davenport received his schooling in South Africa, and both his B.A. and M.A. in Mechanical Sciences from Cambridge University, England, in 1954 and 1958, respectively. In 1957 he received his M.A.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Toronto before returning to England to get his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Bristol in 1961.

Appointed to the Engineering Faculty of the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario in 1961, Dr. Davenport is now a Professor and former Chairman of the Civil Engineering Group. He was the founder of the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory and has been the Director since its establishment in 1965. This laboratory has carried out innovative design studies for major structures. For example, of the 40 tallest buildings in the world, roughly two thirds have been studied at Western Ontario.

Dr. Davenport has pioneered in the application of boundary layer wind tunnels to the design of wind sensitive structures, the description of urban wind climates, and other problems involving the action of the wind. He has acted as engineering consultant on many major structures, including the world's tallest and longest: the World Trade Center in New York City, the Sears Building in Chicago, the CN Tower in Toronto, and recently the proposed new 3,300 m span Messina Straits Crossing in Italy. He is author of over 200 papers on various subjects.

Dr. Davenport has received numerous awards including the ASCE State-of-the-Art Award for a review on Structural Safety in 1973, the ASCE Can-AM Amity Award in 1977, and the International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering in 1996. He has been awarded honorary degrees from eight universities.

He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1972, became a Foreign Associate in the National Academy of Engineering in 1987, was elected a Foreign Member of the Fellowship of Engineering in England in 1987, and in the same year he became a founding member of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. In 1991, he became Vice President of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and in 1992 he was elected President for a one-year term.