Chris Burgoyne

Chris Burgoyne (1950-2024)

It is with great sadness that the British Group of IABSE announces the recent death of Christopher Burgoyne. He was Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and a long-time member of the IABSE British Group Executive Committee. He will be remembered as a great enthusiast, with a well-developed curiosity for the wider world and wide-ranging professional interests that educated a generation of bridge engineers with great passion.

Chris graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge before working in industry and taking a PhD from Imperial College in the buckling of beams and columns. His academic work progressed to examining the behaviour of prestressed concrete structures, and pioneering knowledge of the long-term behaviour of very high strength fibres (such as carbon fibre and aramid). He took up an academic post at the University of Cambridge in 1989 and has taught a generation of engineers about the necessity for physics in an understanding of structural behaviour.

His more recent work looked at the structural mechanics of bone and the prestressing of stone structures. His involvement in the wider industry included key roles on the client team for the Queen’s Building at Emmanuel College, which reintroduced structural prestressed stone into the UK, and in the background academic work on the first advanced fibre bridge in the UK at Aberfeldy.

Chris was a key advocate for proper integration between academic research and the practical problems of industry, and maintained a close engagement with both the IStructE and IABSE for many years leading to many fruitful discussions and collaborations. The list of people he has co-authored papers with comprises a who’s who of bridge engineering over the past 40 years.

Chris’ legacy will live on in those students who received a no-nonsense, honest approach to education grounded in passion and encouragement. His rigorous academic approach was combined with a real insight into real-world structures and issues, unafraid to challenge consensus and received wisdom and consistently improve and inspire the people who would go on to design so many of our high-profile structures. He will be widely missed.

David Knight

Chair, British Group of IABSE

Chris in his own words: