Vladimir Grigoryevich Shukhov (August 28, 1853 - February 2, 1939) was a Russian engineer-polymath, scientist and architect renowned for his pioneering works on new methods of analysis for structural engineering that led to breakthroughs in industrial design of world's first hyperboloid structures, lattice shell structures, tensile structures, gridshell structures, oil reservoirs, pipelines, boilers, ships and barges.
In 1864 Vladimir entered Saint Petersburg gymnasium from which he graduated with distinction in 1871. During his high school years he showed mathematical talents, once demonstrating to his classmates and teacher an original proof of the Pythagorean theorem.
After graduating from the gymnasium, Shukhov entered the Imperial Moscow Technical School, in which his teachers included Pafnuty Chebyshev, Aleksey Letnikov, and Nikolay Zhukovsky. In 1876 Shukhov graduated from the school with distinction and a Gold Medal. Chebyshev proposed to him a job as a lecturer in mathematics at the Imperial Moscow Technical School, but Shukhov decided to seek a job in the industry instead.
Thereupon Shukhov went to Philadelphia, to work on the Russian pavilion at the World's Fair and to study the inner workings of the American industry. During his stay in the US Shukhov came to know a Russian-American entrepreneur, Alexander Veniaminovich Bari (Aleksandr Veniaminovic Bari) who also worked on the organization of the Fair.
In 1877 Shukhov returned to Russia and joined the drafting office of the Warsaw-Vienna railroad. Within several months, Shukhov's frustration with standard and routine engineering made him abandon the office and join a military-medical academy.
Working with Bari
On his coming to Russia in 1877, Bari persuaded Shukhov to give up his medical education and to assume the office of Chief Engineer in a new company specializing in innovative engineering. Shukhov worked with Bari at this company until the October Revolution. Their works revolutionized many areas of civil engineering, ship engineering, and oil industry. The thermal cracking method, the Shukhov cracking process, was patented by Vladimir Shukhov in 1891.
Works and innovations
Besides the innovations he brought to the oil industry and the construction of numerous bridges and buildings, Shukhov was the inventor of a new family of doubly-curved structural forms. These forms, based on non-Euclidean hyperbolic geometry, are known today as hyperboloids of revolution. Shukhov developed not only many varieties of light-weight hyperboloid towers and roof systems, but also the mathematics for their analysis. Shukhov is particularly reputed for his original designs of hyperboloid towers such as the Shukhov Tower.
Important construction from Shukhov were spacious elongated shop galleries, bridged with innovative metal-and-glass vaults, notably the Upper Trade Rows on Red Square (1889-94), Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (1898-1912) and Petrovka Passage (1903-06).
He worked on several Constructivist projects, designed in collaboration with Konstantin Melnikov, notably the Bakhmetevsky Bus Garage (1926-28) and Novo-Ryazanskaya Street Garage (1926-29).
On Shukhov's 110th birthday in 1963 Soviet Union issued a postal stamp showing Shukhov and his tower.
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