Sir Ove Nyquist Arup CBE (1895-1988)

Engineer, philosopher and founder of the Ove Arup and Partners, consulting engineers.

Sir Ove was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to a Danish diplomat. His first degree was in philosophy and mathematics from the University of Copenhagen. He later studied engineering at the Royal Technical College there.

He later worked in the London offices of the civil engineers Christiani & Nielson, where he was their Chief Designer. There he was instrumental in developing techniques for the use of reinforced concrete to realise the ambitious aims of Modern Architecture.

He lectured for the Architectural Association School of Architecture, and was a leading member of the Modern Architecture Research Society.

In 1946, he set up a private practice (Ove Arup and Partners) which was to become the current Arup Group. (Which I now work for, yay!)

The firm immediately worked on innovative projects, including the Sydney Opera House and the smaller scale but technically remarkable penguin pool at London Zoo.

The firm is still run according to the principles enshrined in Sir Ove's "Key Speech", given in 1970. It is administered from two trust funds and all the stock is shared between all the employees. The Key Speech is notable for its emphasis on equality and the moral purpose of engineers. His main aims for the group included humane organisation, straight and honourable dealings, and social usefulness. These concepts were not mere marketing warm words- he expounded on their merit at length and with conviction, decades before other organisations began to pay them lip-service.

He said of the difference between science and engineering:

"Engineering is not a science. Science studies particular events to find general laws. Engineering design makes use of these laws to solve particular problems. In this it is more closely related to art or craft; as in art, its problems are under-defined, there are many solutions, good, bad, or indifferent. The art is, by a synthesis of ends and means, to arrive at a good solution. This is a creative activity, involving imagination, intuition and deliberate choice."

The Key Speech is at

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