Sir Duncan Michael (born 1937), structural engineer and global business leader
Duncan joined Ove Arup & Partners in 1962. In 1957 Arup had joined with Jorn Utzon to design the Sydney Opera House which was to be a highly complex construction, and Duncan joined the team that delivered this iconic structure. His part of the project was the 'side shells' which supported all the spherical roof surfaces as key elements of the project.
In his work on the Shahyad Aryamehr Monument in Tehran (1968) he used computers to enable the stonemasons to create the complex geometry regime in warped pieces of white marble. He won his reputation in Hong Kong by a series of repair projects for dangerous building sites on the slopes associated with the Po Shan disaster. His subsequent contribution helped to establish ambitious modern attitudes to building construction in Hong Kong.
He became a Main Board Director of Arup in 1977 at the age of 39. He became Chairman of the Board in 1995 and also of the Trustees 1995-2004. In 1995 he carried out the reformation of the company structure establishing five "blocks" led by self-governing boards responsible and empowered to build their areas of practice within the firm's culture.
Duncan has always recognised the importance of team work to deliver engineering products. He considers the attributes of an engineer in addition to technical competence are, humility, honesty, intelligence, imagination and courage with the understanding that it is a team effort that is required for success. Arup have always been committed to an integrated design approach for project delivery and Duncan was a staunch advocate of this approach.
He is a respected engineer, throughout the UK and internationally where he has been widely recognised and acknowledged. Throughout his career and now he is committed to the advancement of the academic education of engineering students through his lecturing and involvement with universities.
|Born in Beauly, Inverness-shire, Scotland on 26 May||1937|
|5||Beauly village school||1942|
|18||University of Edinburgh, Civil Engineering||1955|
|19||Trained with Duncan Logan, contractors||1956|
|22||PhD, University of Leeds researching steel coal bunkers||1959|
|24||Lecturer, University of Leeds||1961|
|25||Engineer, Ove Arup and Partners, London||1962|
|26||Side shells engineer, Sydney Opera House||1962|
|29||Published research on linked tall shear walls||1966|
|32||Azadi Monument and other projects, Iran||1969|
|36||Opened office in Hong Kong||1973|
|40||Director, Ove Arup & Partners, Scotland||1977|
|42||Hopewell Centre, Hong Kong||1979|
|45||Shajiao C power station, China||1982|
|47||Opened California office||1984|
|47||Lloyds of London rebuilding||1984|
|47||Fellow, Royal Academy of Engineering||1984|
|50||Opened New York office||1987|
|53||British Library, London||1990|
|54||Opened office in Turkey||1991|
|57||Yapi Kredi Bankasi, Istanbul||1994|
|58||Chair of Arup Main Board and Trustees||1995|
|58||Trustee of Ove Arup Foundation charity||1995|
|59||Restructuring of Arup organisation||1996|
|63||Fellow of IESIS||2000|
|63||Gold Medallist, Institution of Strcutural Engineers||2000|
|63||Board member of The Housing Corporation||2000|
|64||Knight bachelor, for services to Engineering and Construction||2001|
|65||Founded Lydia Michael Trust, Scottish charity||2002|
|68||Fellow, Royal Society of Edinburgh||2005|
|71||Original member, Board of GB Social Housing||2008|
|72||Initial Trustee Director, Board of Useful Simple Trust||2009|
|79||Inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame on 7 October||2016|
Sir Duncan Michael, educated in civil engineering in Scotland, reached the highest level in global consulting engineering through his excellence in structural engineering and business expertise, and applied his engineering approach and philosophy to change the structure of consulting engineers Arup during his time as Chairman. He also established and set in motion the process to have just one Arup globally, enabling the individual ex-Empire practices to merge with honour.
He expanded the diversity of skills for the richer quality of service on client projects, which allowed the company to develop, now represented in all parts of the world with over 13,000 employees and a turnover of over £1.3 billion. He ensured the Arup philosophy which includes the core values of quality, honesty, prosperity and creativity applied to all people within the organisation and beyond, appropriately and equitably, was locked into the Arup culture.
He has maintained his Scottish values throughout his career. His achievements were recognised by the award of a knighthood for services to engineering and construction in 2001.
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