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Ranking of the New 7 Wonders finalists
Machu Picchu is one of the Top Ten Feats of
Man-Made Wonder, Picked by Structural Engineers
Amazing view of Machu Picchu from the Inca
Trail, near the Guard House (called the Watchman's hut). Machu Picchu fills
and thrills one’s mind with visions of stone stairs leading to a mystical lncan
village. The ancient planned community was integrated into instead of imposed
onto its environment.
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Metropolis Magazine invited structural engineers
Leslie E. Robertson, the éminence grise of American engineering, and Craig
Schwitter, a partner in the New York office of Buro Happold, to pick their
favorite feats of man-made wonder. One of their picks is Machu Picchu, the
mysterious ruins built by the Incas.
January 10, 2007. Source:
Metropolis Magazine by
Craig Schwitter, Leslie E. Robertson & Martin C. Pedersen
There were structural engineers long before there was even a name for them.
Throughout history, whenever human beings have attempted to build on a
massive or merely complicated scale, someone handled the engineer’s job:
figuring out how a temple or a bridge or a great wall might be constructed
and, more important, how it could withstand the primal and unrelenting laws
of gravity. For most of recorded time this was done without technical
assistance, either by hand or by semi-educated guess. And while much is made
today about the merging of architecture and engineering, history’s great
master builders were all designer-engineers.
In recent decades, however, the nature of the discipline has been radically
altered by computer modeling. Technology continues to advance, and the
learning curve for engineers gets exponentially steeper. Architects push the
boundaries of structural logic (or at least appear to), and engineers
respond, largely because technology has enabled them to. But there is still
a great deal to be learned by looking back.
To that end Metropolis Magazine invited structural engineers Leslie E.
Robertson, the éminence grise of American engineering, and Craig Schwitter,
a partner in the New York office of Buro Happold, to pick their favorite
feats of man-made wonder. One of their picks is Machu Picchu, the mysterious
ruins built by the Incas.
The Lost City of Incas, Machu Picchu
Built on the steep slopes at the
crest of the Andes Mountains, with terraced scientific and
agricultural areas, Machu Picchu features wonderful, almost
jointless stonework. The Incas were superb craftsmen and
thoughtful architect-engineers. They had a sublime sense of how
to create an opening through a stone retaining wall. They sloped
the stones toward the opening, capping it with a lintel, but why
they never used the arch is very strange. Was this because of
some religious or cultural belief? Certainly it was not for lack
of engineering talent. When you look at Machu Picchu, you see
this total merger of architecture and engineering. The
composition of the spaces is a marvel—the way they sorted out
those areas to be used for industry, those for living, and those
for religious purposes. Of course, while being swept away with
the mystery of the place, you can’t help but wonder about its
history: Why was it constructed? How was it used? Why was it
abandoned? Why did it lay so long hidden from view of the
Western world? Today structural engineering and architecture are
growing so close together that you cannot really separate the
two, as was the case nearly 600 years ago in the Andes. -
Machu Picchu is without
doubt the most recognizable symbol of Inca Civilization. "The Inca Trail",
as it is known now, was the Royal Highway that led pilgrims and officials of
the Empire to the Sacred City of the Incas.
What makes the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu so
special is the stunning combination of Inca ruins, incredible views, the
Andes scenery, exotic vegetation and extraordinary ecological variety. Over
250 species of orchid have been counted in the Machu Picchu Historic
Sanctuary, as well as numerous birds such as hummingbirds, waterfowl and the
majestic Andean Condor.
Leslie E. Robertson
(born 1928) is a structural engineer who has designed hundreds of buildings
around the world including the World Trade Center in New York, the Shanghai
World Financial Center in Shanghai, the United States Steel Headquarters in
Pittsburgh, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong, Puerta de Europa in Madrid
and the Continental Airlines Arena in the New Jersey Meadowlands, as well as
museums in Berlin, Portland (Maine) and Seattle, and the Miho Museum Bridge
in Japan. (From Wikipedia).