Alan Garnett Davenport Civil Engineering

Pioneered the application of wind tunnels to the design of wind sensitive structures and worked to create international design standards for wind engineering.

"It has been very satisfying to have carried out some research that has been rapidly assimilated into the mainstream of structural engineering."

The Story

Davenport graduated with his PhD from Bristol University in England in 1961. The same year, he came to the University of Western Ontario as an Associate Professor, and spent the next four decades there as a prominent educator and researcher.

In 1965, Davenport founded the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory at UWO, a centre to study the effects of wind, water and environmental loads on tall buildings, bridges and other man-made structures. Under his continuing directorship, the laboratory has been recognized as a world leader for its innovative research in wind engineering and to studies on wind/wave action and atmospheric dispersion. Davenport contributed to the fields of meteorology, environmental loads, structural dynamics and earthquake loading. He developed the world's first statistically based seismic zoning map, for Canada. He is author of over 200 papers on these various subjects and has lectured around the world.

Davenport has led design studies at the Wind Tunnel Laboratory for many of the tallest buildings and largest bridges in the world. Some of these are:

  • World Trade Center (New York City)
  • Sears Building (Chicago)
  • CN Tower (Toronto)
  • proposed 3,300m span Messina Straits Crossing (Italy)
  • Normandy bridge (France)
  • Storebaelt bridge (Denmark)
  • Tsing Ma bridge (Hong Kong)

Davenport consults internationally on structures from towers to bridges, to offshore structures and pipelines. In addition, he has contributed to the setting of design standards around the world. He has recently been working with several Canadian companies in the development of high performance, low cost, prefabricated housing for use in post-disaster situations and other applications.


Davenport has chaired and sat on the boards of innumerable professional and government committees, including the Committee on the National Building Code of Canada and the Canadian National Committee for the UN's International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (1990-2000). He founded, and continues to direct, the Centre for Studies in Construction at UWO, an interdisciplinary research organization whose goal is to effectively address construction problems.

Davenport is the founding editor of the Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering and has been on the editorial board of six others academic journals. He is co-author of the NATO publication Wind Climate in Cities (1994).

In 2001, Davenport was presented with one of the most prestigious international awards for civil engineering, France's Albert Caquot Award. A symposium is to be held in his honour in June 2002 to celebrate his many contributions to his profession and at the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory over the last 40 years.

Sources: Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory; Western News, December 7, 2001; UWO's CentrePoint, April 25, 2001; Photo: UWO's CentrePoint, June 04, 2001.

The Person

Madras, India
Professor; Director, Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory
Engineering Faculty, University of Western Ontario
  • BA (Mech. Sci.), Cambridge University, England, 1954
  • M.A.Sc (Civil Eng.), U of Toronto, 1957
  • MA (Mech. Sci.), Cambridge University, England, 1958
  • PhD (Civil Eng.)U of Bristol, 1961
  • Many honourary degrees
  • Gzowski Medal (Engineering Institute of Canada), 1963 and 1978
  • Duggan Medal and Prize (EIC), 1960
  • Golden Plate Award (American Academy of Achievement), 1965
  • Applied Meteorology Prize (Canadian Meteorological Society), 1967
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1972
  • State-of-the-Art Award (Am. Soc. of Civil Engineers), 1973
  • Can-AM Amity Award (ASCE), 1977
  • Silver Medal (Assoc. of Professional Engineers of Ontario), 1978
  • Fellow, Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, 1982
  • AB Sanderson Award for Structural Engineering (CSCE), 1985
  • CANCAM Medal, 1983
  • Fellow, Centre for Frontier Engineering Research, 1983
  • Gold Medal (Institution of Structural Engineers - UK), 1988
  • Earnest Manning Innovation Award of Distinction, 1990
  • Bell Canada-Forum Award for Excellence, 1992
  • Killam Memorial Prize, 1993
  • Julian C. Smith Medal (EIC), 1993
  • Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering (NSERC), 1994
  • International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering, 1996
  • Caquot Medal (Association Francaise de Genie Civil), 2001
Last Updated
December 31, 2011

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