In episode 008 of the Civil Engineering Podcast, my partner Chris gives you a closer look at one of the world’s most recognizable structures, the Eiffel Tower in person. He shares some interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower in the project segment of the show. He also talks about Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the engineer behind the Eiffel Tower, his life story and how he became successful as an engineer through his ingenuity, hard work and the passion for life-long learning.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The works and contributions of Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel in the world of civil engineering.
- How to live a life and career you enjoy by following your passion and interests.
- The characteristics that make up a very successful engineer.
- Never stop learning, be engaged in what you’re doing! Learn more in Ep 008! #TCEPodcast
- Be daring and inventive, be an entrepreneur. Tune in now to Ep 008 of #TCEPodcast
- Where will passion take you today? Tune in to #TCEPodcast Ep 008.
- In this week’s #TCEPodcast we feature the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris. Tune in now!
Project Name: The Eiffel Tower
The tower is 324 meters (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. In fact, when completed the Eiffel tower was the tallest structure in the world, a distinction it held until the Chrysler Building was completed in 1930. Its base is square, 125 meters (410 ft) on a side and base pillars of the tower align with the four points of the compass. The final design called for more than 18,000 pieces of puddle iron, a type of wrought iron used in construction, and 2.5 million rivets.
Project Budget (Construction):
At the time the Eiffel Tower was constructed, the total construction and materials cost of the Eiffel Tower was 8 million francs or $1.5m – that’s around $36m in 2015 costs. But this is not a true reflection of what it would cost to build today, as the labor costs alone (assuming it could be built in two years) would swallow $30m. With a capacity potential of 10,000 fee-paying visitors on the tower at any one time, costs were recovered in the first year of the tower being open to the public, with Gustav Eiffel becoming a rich man as a result.
Project Completion (Month/Year or Expected Completion Date):
The project was completed on March 31, 1889 and was constructed in in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days…which in itself was a veritable technical and architectural achievement. Built in 21 months the tower was delivered on time.
Special Design Features and/or Challenges:
One interesting challenge is that the Eiffel Tower must be painted by hand every 6 or 7 years to protect it from corrosion, a process that takes 60 tons of paint and two years to complete. The painting is usually done by a rather unique cadre of 25 painters who are unafraid of heights and possess an acrobatic agility for scaling the tower. In order to accentuate the impression of height, the tower is painted in three slightly different shades of “Eiffel Tower beige”, a color similar to milk chocolate with the lightest shade at the top.
Some Other Facts:
- The Eiffel Tower was built for the 1889 Paris Exposition and was not intended to be permanent….
- The Eiffel Tower was going to be demolished in 1909, but was saved because it was repurposed as a giant radio antenna.
- 1,665 steps are needed to climb all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
- Some 500 employees are responsible for its daily operations, working in its restaurants, manning its elevators, ensuring its security and directing the eager crowds flocking the tower’s platforms to enjoy panoramic views of the City of Lights.
- On average, 7 million people visit the tower annually.
Benefits to Society:
The Eiffel Tower opened in May of 1889 as the grand entrance to the Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower has attracted over 200 million people to marvel at its unique engineering design. In fact, in terms of paid-visitors, the Eiffel Tower ranks number one in the world.
Please leave your comments or questions in the section below about how you can be inventive and daring as a civil engineer.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
The Engineering Career Coach
Author of Engineer Your Own Success
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Photo of The Eiffel Tower by Chris Knutson, PE