Department of

Civil and Environmental Engineering



Kavanagh Lecture - Biographical Sketch

The Ninth Annual Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture

April 5, 2001

7:30 pm

Applied Research Laboratory Auditorium

The Sky's the Limit: The History of the Design of Modern Skyscrapers


Dr. Charles H. Thornton
Thornton-Tomasetti Group, Inc.


Charles H. Thornton is Chairman of the Thornton-Tomasetti Group, Inc., a 425-person organization providing engineering and architectural services, failure analysis, hazard mitigation, and disaster response services. Dr. Thornton holds a B.S. degree from Manhattan College, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from New York university. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 and named Honorary Member of ASCE in 1999.

Dr. Thornton's thirty-nine years of experience with the firm have included involvement in the design and construction of hundreds of millions of dollars of projects, including Chicago Stadium (Bulls and Blackhawks arena) and Comisky Park in Chicago, the United Airlines Terminal at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, the 95-story Petronas Twin Towers, the world's tallest buildings, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the 65-story One Liberty Place in Philadelphia. He is a recognized expert in the area of collapse and structural failure analysis. In 1978, Dr. Thornton led the engineering team investigation of the causes of the collapse of the Hartford Coliseum Truss Roof in Connecticut, and in 1996, he participated in FEMA's Building Performance Assessment Team to investigate the Oklahoma City bombing.

Dr. Thornton is Chairman and Founder of the ACE Mentor Program that offers guidance and training to inner-city high school students in architecture, construction and engineering in cities across the U.S. In addition, Dr. Thornton is President of the Salvadori Center that each year educates over 2,000 New York City middle school students in mathematics and science using architectural and engineering principles. Dr. Thornton is a member of the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) and the National Research Council's Committee for Oversight and Assessment of Blast-Effects and Related Research. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the Applied Technology Council (ATC), the Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC), the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), and the Corporate Advisory Board of the Civil Engineering Research Foundation (CERF).