Tom Paulay, New Zealand

Professor Tom Paulay has been conferred with the 2008 International Award of Merit 'in recognition of his outstanding contributions to structural engineering as a researcher, teacher and expert in seismic desing of reinforced concrete structures'. Jacques Combault, President of the IABSE, presented the Award on September 17, 2008, in Chicago, USA, at the Opening Ceremony of the IABSE Congress 'Creating and Renewing Urban Structures - Tall Buildings, Bridges and Infrastructure'.

Tom Paulay, born in 1923 in Hungary, received his engineering education at the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. For 28 years he has been teaching structural design and structural mechanics. The major part of his research over 40 years at the University of Canterbury, addressed the seismic design of reinforced concrete structures. After his retirement in 1989, as a Professor Emeritus, he has been active as an author, lecturer and particularly within the International Association for Earthquake Engineering.

Professor Paulay developed analytical techniques for the design of concrete building structures and through extensive experimental studies established design criteria. Over a number of years he worked on the drafting of the seismic design provisions for a standard code of practice for concrete structures in New Zealand. He developed the application of the 'capacity design’ particularly for multi-storey reinforced concrete building systems. In the early 80’s the philosophy of capacity design was brought by Professor Paulay into the first draft of the European Seismic Design Code, later to become Eurocode 8.

He revolutionised the design of ductile reinforced concrete structures with the ‘displacementfocused seismic design’, which abandons traditional elastic analysis and assigns the strength to different elements such as walls and frames. It found an important application in the response of asymmetric ductile buildings, thus addressing the torsion problem.

Professor Paulay has published some150 papers on structural design and earthquake engineering in New Zealand and internationally. As a visiting professor he has worked at numerous universities around the world, travelled extensively on lecture tours and has presented papers at international conferences in 29 countries. He served as a consultant to UNESCO in connection with earthquake mitigation in the Balkan region.

His contributions have been recognised by many awards including honorary doctorates bestowed by Universities and Institutes, worldwide. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, a honorary Member of the American Concrete Institute, and is a recipient of the Order of the British Empire and the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. He is Past President, and Honorary Member, of the International Association of Earthquake Engineering.