Tribute to Giovanni Lombardi
(Lugano May 28, 1926 – Monte-Carlo May 22, 2017))
After obtaining his diploma of Major in Civil Engineering at the Swiss federal Institute of Technology, Zurich in 1948, Giovanni Lombardi completed his doctoral thesis in technical sciences on the subject “Les barrages en voûte mince” (Thin arch dams ) in 1955, a subject which has characterized his whole brilliant career. From 1949 to 1950 he started his professional activity in the engineering office by Henri Gicot (Fribourg), followed by activities in France and Berne as chief engineer in the office by Eng. Dr h.c. A. Kaech from 1952 to 1955. He founded his own firm of consulting engineers in Locarno in 1955 (as of 1989 Lombardi Ltd., relocation to Minusio in 1993). From 1989 to 2013, he was president of Lombardi Ltd.
Giovanni Lombardi was one of the world’s most important dam engineers and a teacher of an entire generation of engineers in his own country Switzerland as well as in the countless countries where he has left his footprints. Particularly noteworthy among his major projects is the 220 m high arch dam in Contra (Ticino), as well as the arch dams in Kops (Austria), Huites (Mexico), Zimapán (Mexico) and the rehabilitation of numerous arch dams such as Zeuzier (Canton Valais), Kölnbrein (Austria) and Flumendosa (Italy).
Giovanni Lombardi was also a man of tunnels. The Gotthard road tunnel (L-17 km) is certainly his masterpiece in this field. However, he was also involved in the studies and the realization of the tunnels for the Neuchâtel, Locarno, Luxembourg and Hergiswil (Canton Lucerne) bypasses. He furthermore contributed to the realization of the Channel Tunnel and to the development of the Gibraltar railway tunnel project, he was involved in the studies for a tunnel under the Strait of Messina, and last but not least the underground laboratories CERN and Gran Sasso as well as numerous hydropower plants.
From 1979 to 1985 he was the Chairman of the Swiss National Committee of Large Dams and from 1985 to 1988 the President of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). He was a member of the Swiss Education Council (governing board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, Zurich and Lausanne) and of the Board of Directors of UBS (1980-1996) as well as Dr Eng. h.c. at the Swiss federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, (1986) and at the Politecnico of Milano, Italy (2004).
He is the author of more than 100 scientific and technical publications on the subject of dams and underground structures. With his creativity he contributed to the theoretical development and the practical implementation of many innovative techniques which, in the meantime, have become common practice in engineering, in particular: the definition of the slenderness coefficient for arch dams, the method for the use of characteristic lines for analyzing stability problems in underground works, the FES-Rock mass model for analyzing deformations of fissured elastic saturated rock masses, the method of grouting rock masses GIN (Grouting Intensity Number) and the model MIC (Compound Interpretative Model) for analyzing behavior and safety of dams.
Giovanni Lombardi’s extraordinary career was crowned by numerous prizes and awards, amongst others the Swiss Award 2008, the prize “José Entrecanales Ibarra” (Madrid 2011), the title G.R.E.A.T. (Grouters Dedicated to Research, Education, Advancement of Technology and Service) of the American Institute “Deep Foundations” (New Orleans February 2012) and many more.
The Swiss Committee on Dams is very grateful for his invaluable contribution to the development of dam construction. He has promoted our committee and the Swiss dam engineering in the whole world and aroused the vocation in many talented engineers who today are following his footsteps.
The Board and the community of the members of the Swiss Committee on Dams express their sincere condolences to the family of Giovanni Lombardi.