The architect, engineer and entrepreneur Gustave Eiffel is mainly known for his legendary contribution to the Paris cityscape. His bridges, domes, train stations and additional structural accomplishments have had a lasting influence on subsequent construction projects and exist as lasting examples of revolutionary 19th century design.
Reigning over the sweeping Champ de Mars in Paris’ seventh arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower is certainly one of the many iconic buildings of the modern period. The iron lattice tower, with it’s wide-spreading decorative arches, embellished ironwork and soft curve of its four supportive girders sits in graceful harmony within the symmetry of the surrounding landscape.
Who Was Gustave Eiffel?
Gustave Eiffel was born in the early 1800s. After his studies at the École Polytechnique and the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures (College of Art and Manufacturing) in Paris, he started his career in metal construction concentrating on bridges.
He finished his first major project, the iron bridge at Bordeaux, in addition to several other smaller structures, prior to setting up his own company as an independent engineer in 1865. During the late 1860s through to the mid-1880s, Eiffel’s major designs included the arched Gallery of Machines for the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
The Design Of The Eiffel Tower
The idea to build a tower 300 metres high was created as part of preparations for the World’s Fair of 1889. The bet was to “study the possibility of building an iron tower on the Champ-de-Mars with a square base which is 125 metres across and 300 metres tall”.
Chosen from among 107 projects, it was that of Gustave Eiffel, entrepreneur, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, who were both engineers, and Stephen Sauvestre, an architect, who was accepted.
Emile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin, who were the two chief engineers in Eiffel’s company, had the concept for an extremely tall tower in June 1884. It was to be constructed like a large pylon that has four columns of lattice work girders that are separated at the base and coming together at the top and joined to each other by more metal girders at frequent intervals.
The tower project was a daring extension of this principle up to a height of 300 metres – comparable to the symbolic figure of 1000 feet. On 18 September 1884 Eiffel lodged a patent “for a new structure to allow for the construction of metal supports and pylons that are capable of exceeding a height of 300 metres.”
In order to make the project far more acceptable to public opinion, Nouguier and Koechlin appointed the architect Stephen Sauvestre to run point on the project’s look and feel.
Although, like some people change their mind about Australian betting after finding out how much fun it is, some altered their opinion of the tower once it was constructed, many maintained that the iron pyramid was particularly unappealing. The Eiffel Tower was revolutionary for its usage of iron and rivets, breaking with the masonry architecture which had dominated cities in this period, and for its astonishing height – it was the tallest building in the world when it was constructed, and maintained the record for 40 years after its erection.