Kavanagh Lecture Series

Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture

Each spring semester, the Thomas C. Kavanagh Memorial Structural Engineering Lecture invites a nationally or internationally prominent structural engineer to Penn State University Park to speak on a timely structural engineering topic. The lecture provides faculty, students, and practitioners with the opportunity to connect, converse, and collaborate, and honors Dr. Kavanagh’s commitment and dedication to the profession and his students.

About Dr. Thomas C. Kavanagh

Dr. Kavanagh, a structural engineer, served as a Penn State civil engineering professor from 1948-52. In 1952, he joined New York University as the chair of its Department of Civil Engineering. Dr. Kavanagh served as a consultant for various firms, eventually joining Louis Berger International as its vice president in 1975. In 1976, he founded Iffland Kavanagh Waterbury, where he remained a partner until his death in 1978. Dr. Kavanagh served as a founding member of the National Academy of Engineering and served as its first treasurer from 1964-74.

2024 Lecture

April 25
4:00 p.m.
Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center


Guy Nordenson, SE, FASCE, AAA&S, NAE
Guy Nordenson and Associates
Structural Engineers LLP

Professor of Architecture and Structural Engineering
School of Architecture, Princeton University


Guy Nordenson is a structural engineer and professor of architecture at Princeton. He was the engineer for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., the International African American Museum, and Emmanuel Nine Memorial, both in Charleston, S.C. and oversaw the design and engineering of David Hammons’ Day’s End sculpture in the Hudson River in New York City. Nordenson is the author of books on climate adaptation and engineering design. He was a Commissioner of the New York City Public Design Commission (2006-16) and a member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

Lecture Title

Working Structures

Lecture Abstract

What is the role of the structural engineer in her and his collaborations with architects and artists? Notable structural engineers from Ove Arup to Fazlur Khan have acted at times as consulting facilitator and brilliant technician and other times as lead designers. What critical concepts that can account for the creative contributions of the actors in key works of architecture? And what civic roles do engineers play in addressing the pressing needs of cities both in the climate crisis but also in the case of transformative events such as 9/11? This talk will review these questions from the perspective of the speaker’s participation in recent projects with architects and artists and design research to address the challenges of coastal resilience and adaptation.

  • 2024 Lecture
    Guy Nordenson, SE, FASCE, AAA&S, NAE
    April 25
    4:00 p.m.
    Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084