What makes a project significant?
Of course, large, high-profile projects are significant by their nature.
But, the most significant projects are not necessarily the biggest or most
famous—they may be projects that are significant because they change
the nature of our practice, involve unique solutions to particularly complex
problems, or make an extraordinary contribution to the profession.
How were the projects selected?
WJE employees were asked to nominate projects they felt deserved
consideration as one of the fifty most significant. Jack Janney and others
familiar with the history of WJE were consulted regarding significant
projects from the company’s early years. In the end, 102 projects were
nominated and background information, photographs, and a statement
of significance were developed for each nominated project.
A blue ribbon panel was then asked to rate the significance of each
nomination. The nine members of the panel are listed below, along with
brief biographical profiles. The fifty projects with the highest collective
ratings were selected as the most significant.
The collective ratings were also used to determine the “Top Ten”projects
and they are identified as such in this monograph along with comments
from the panel. Two projects stood out above all others as most significant:
Consulting and Testing Services for the Illinois Tollway Authority (1956),
and Load Testing at the New York World’s Fair (1966). These two projects
are recognized for their special significance to the founding, growth, and
reputation of the firm.
Ian, an architect and structural engineer, joined
WJE in 1978 and has served as manager of the
Chicago office. Ian specializes in the investigation
and repair of building facades, including many
high-rise structures. His most memorable project
is the recladding of the Amoco Building.
Jim, a chemist, joined WJE in 1973 and has served
as manager of the Materials Science and Engineering
group (now the Janney Technical Center). Jim has
contributed to materials investigations across the
country. His most memorable project is the Willow
Island Cooling Tower collapse investigation.
John, a structural engineer, joinedWJE in 1972
and became president in 1979. He specializes in
the investigation of concrete, steel, and masonry
structures, and is currently Distinguished Professor
Emeritus of Civil Engineering and Construction at
North Carolina State University. His most memorable
project is the Fremont Bridge evaluation and repair.
Harry, an architect, joined WJE in 1986 and
has served as manager of the Architecture group.
He specializes in historic preservation and the
application of technology to the conservation of
the built environment. His most memorable
project is moving the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Did we get it right?
As we review the monograph, many of us will think of other projects
that are at least as significant as some of those selected—and the selection
of these most significant projects was of course a subjective exercise. But
getting the Top Fifty exactly right, even if that were possible, is not really
the point. What matters is what these projects represent: a fifty-year
tradition of delivering better solutions to challenging construction-related
problems. And that is something to honor and celebrate.
How is this book organized?
The projects are divided chronologically into four chapters of WJE’s
history. A brief narrative on the contemporaneous events in the firm’s
development precedes the project descriptions in each chapter. In the fifth
and final chapter of the book, we look to the future and recognize a few
of the ongoing and recently completed projects that may be candidates
for “most significant” status in our next half-century.
On behalf of WJE, thank you for taking time to learn more about the rich
history of our firm and the company’s most significant projects to date.
Vice President and Principal
50 Mos t S i gn i f i c ant Pro j ec t s