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Anton Tedesko Collection


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Tedesko, Anton, 1903-1994

Anton Tedesko (1903-1994) was a German-born American structural engineer, best known for his work in the field of reinforced thin-shell concrete design, often for significant industrial, institutional, and government construction projects, largely in the United States during World War II and the Cold War. His most famous buildings include the Hayden Planetarium, in New York City (1934), and the Vertical Assembly Building, at NASA's Cape Canaveral Launch Complex (1966).

Tedesko grew up in Austria, where he attended Technische Universität, in Vienna, and received a diploma in Structural Engineering in 1926. After moving to the United States for two years to pursue structural steel detailing and design work, he returned to Austria in 1929 and briefly served as an assistant to Professor Ernest Melan, a steel structure specialist. He received an additional diploma from Technische Universität Berlin in 1930 and went to work for the well-established Wiesbaden-Biebrich-based firm, Dyckerhoff & Widmann, that was then pioneering the engineering and construction of concrete buildings, bridges, dams, and tunnels in Germany. In the 1920s, Dyckerhoff & Widmann teamed up with Walter Bauersfeld, who developed the famous cupola for the Zeiss Planetarium, and obtained several patents on Bauersfeld's framework and reinforcement processes. During his time at Dyckerhoff & Widmann, Anton Tedesko worked alongside famous engineers, including Franz Dischinger (1887-1953), Ulrich Finsterwalder (1897-1989), and Hubert Rüsch (1903-1979), whose ideas greatly influenced his work.

After two years at the company, Dyckerhoff & Widmann's executives decided, based on Tedesko's previous experience overseas and extensive knowledge of thin-shell design, to send him to the United States to work for the Chicago consulting engineering firm Roberts & Schaefer, with the goal of introducing the German firm's methods of thin-shell design to the United States. Slowed down markedly by the Great Depression, the join venture struggled to find shell construction projects, and many designs were drafted while few were built. Tedesko's team constructed their first temporary shell in the form of a small circular-barrel roof for the Brook Hill Farm Dairy Barn at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, followed by the Hayden Planetarium, in New York, in 1934, the first permanent shell built in the United States. Shortly after, the growing unrest in Europe immediately preceding World War II, coupled with the German company's struggles to adapt their strategies to American business practices, led Dyckerhoff & Widmann to give up on their American prospects.

Anton Tedesko, however, elected to stay on with Roberts & Schaefer and went on to design close to 60 concrete shells during his time there from 1934 to 1967, including many airport hangars, factories, and storage facilities. After marrying American Sally Murray, with whom he later had two children, Peter and Suzanne, Tedesko became an American citizen in 1938. Shell design in the United States began to catch hold following several successful projects led by Tedesko in the late 1930s, including the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania (1936), a major water filtering plant in Hibbing, Minnesota (1939), and the cupola for the McAlister Auditorium at Tulane University in New Orleans (1939). Prior to the start of World War II, Roberts & Schaefer built several notable facilities for the Armed Forces, including Air Force seaplane hangars at North Island in San Diego, a major Army warehouse in Columbus, Ohio, and a hangar for the Signal Corps in Dayton, Ohio. During the war, government agencies regularly contracted shell structures with Roberts & Schaefer, due to their design's economic use of materials and efficient industrial production methods. During this boom, Tedesko was put in charge of the firm's Washington D.C. office, where he oversaw many government projects.

After World War II, Tedesko returned to Chicago to serve as the structural manager of Roberts & Schaefer's operations at their main office, during which time he completed massive Air Force aircraft hangars in Rapid City, South Dakota,and Limestone, Maine (1948), the Denver Municipal Coliseum in Colorado (1952), and the shell structures for the terminal building at the St. Louis International Airport (1954). From 1956 to 1967, Tedesko served as the vice-president of Roberts & Schaefer's New York office, where he worked with well-known architects, Minoru Yamasaki and I. M. Pei. While in New York, Tedesko designed the May D&F Entrance Canopy in Denver (1959) and NASA's Vertical Assembly Building, at Cape Canaveral (1966), which housed the assembly of the Saturn space vehicles and was, at the time, the largest building by volume in the world. Following his work for NASA, Tedesko received a Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1966, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1967.

In 1967, Tedesko left Roberts & Schaefer to found his own consulting engineering company, where he served as a consultant for the United States Air Force and many other large firms and as an expert witness for various legal proceedings surrounding structural failures and accidents. Tedesko continued to consult, lecture, and participate in professional committees surrounding shell design until his death in 1994. In 1998, the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) Foundation created the Anton Tedesko Medal in his honor.

The collection consists of four small groups of papers of Anton Tedesko: 1) letters by Tedesko (1936-1966), to his family, particularly to his uncle, Dr. Franz Xavier Weiss, approx. 115 (mainly typewritten, some handwritten); 2) his unpublished typewritten autobiography, 83 pp., consisting of 3 parts: I (to 1920), III (1927-1929), V (1938-1989)--parts II and IV are missing; 3) 29 printed and typed ítems relating to Tedesko; 4) miscellaneous material: copy letters by Weiss to Tedesko, affidavits, stock lists, Christmas (1961) newsletter.

Organized in simple files: Tedesko material (letters, manuscripts), material about Tedesko (typed and printed), and miscellaneous material.

This collection was purchased in 2013. AM 2014-9

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Finding Aid written by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2013.

Nothing was removed during processing the collection in 2013.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
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This collection is open for research.

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Collection Inventory

Letters from Anton Tedesko, 1936-1966. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

c.115 (one hundred and fifteen), c.170pp. total, mainly typewritten (some handwritten), a few incomplete, 4to, on flimsy paper, substantial content, from his addresses in Chicago/Evanstown/Bronxville, about half in German, others in English.

Physical Description

1 folder

Unpublished Autobiography of Anton Tedesko, 1981-1985. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Each page (3 pp.) single-spaced, with around sixty lines to a page. In very good condition. Consisting of three parts, numbered I (to 1920), III (1927 to 1929), and V (1938 to 1989) (parts II and IV are missing). The date of composition of each part is given in the top right-hand corner of the first page.

Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous Articles, Offprints, Publicity Photographs, and Programs, 1966-1979. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

ONE. Offprints of a six-page article by Tedesko, entitled 'Space Truss Braces Huge Building for Moon Rocket' and of anonymous article entitled 'To Design for the Moon Age, Four Firms Work as One Team'. Both articles from 'Engineering News-Record', 6 February 1964. Stapled together into a 4to pamphlet with red and black covers. Photograph of the 'Design team for Moon-rocket building', featuring Tedesko, on cover.

TWO. Colour publicity photograph (17 x 24 cm) of the Vertical Assembly Building at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island, Florida.

THREE. Illustrated advertisement brochure (4to, 3 pp), described as 'Advertisement prepared by Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn, Inc., Pgh., to appear in: Missiles and Rockets - November 29, 1965. Aviation Week - TBS.' Text headed 'For the manned moon shot: the free world's largest launch complex.' and 'United States Steel: where the big idea is innovation'. Tedesko has underlined his name in a paragraph headed 'Design and construction supervision'.

FOUR. Offprint of German six-page article relating to Tedesko's work on the Apollo site at Cape Canaveral, by 'E. Kodric, Wien', with six illustrations, from the Oesterreichische Ingenieur-Zeitschrift ('Sonderabdruck aus Heft 9, Jg. 9 (1966)'), entitled 'Montagehalle fuer grosse Weltraumraketen mit bemannten Raumfahrzeugen'. With Tedesko's stamp, calling card, a signed note and inscription 'To Nelly with Love!'

FIVE. Three pages, photocopies of magazine articles, stapled together by Tedesko and with a short note by him and his signed compliments slip. The first page is headed 'Lehigh Begins Second Century of Service | Four to Receive Honorary Degrees at Founder's Day Observance'. With photo of Tedesko, and report of his receipt of a degree. The other two pages (5 and 99) from November 1966 issue of Civil Engineering, the former featuring a report of the receipt by Tedesko of the degree, and the latter an article entitled 'Conference in Russia on Shell Structures' ('Civil Engineering is indebted to Anton Tedesko, F. ASCE, of Roberts and Schaefer for this information'). WITH: Xerox press handouts one concerning the award of Honorary Degrees at Lehigh to Tedeskop, Robert Macnamara and others, the other life and career of Tedesko.

SIX. Programme for the ACI 1973 Annual Awards, Chalfonte-Haddon Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 8 March 1973, featuring page announcing the award of Honorary Membership to Tedesko, 'for outstanding service to the Institute and innovative design and construction of shells and other concrete structures'.

SEVEN. Offprint, docketed by Tedesko 'A reprint mit Druckfehlern', of 9-page article by Tedesko from 'ASCE-IABSE International Conference on Tall Buildings Preprints August 1972/Lehigh University', entitled 'Technical Committee No. 4 Constructional Systems Discusssion No. 3 Unusual Solutions'. Fourteen illustrations.

EIGHT. Offprint, docketed by Tedesko 'A reprint ohne Druckfehler', of 3-page article by Tedesko 'Reprinted from Civil Engineering - ASCE February 1973', entitled 'Construction: the gap between intent and performance'.

NINE. Two-page press release from the American Concrete Institute, 'For Release 2:00 p.m. March 8, 1973', headed 'Awards Luncheon Presents Honorary Memberships'. Reproduces the section relating to Tedesko.

TEN. Photocopy of letter by Tedesko, published in 12 August 1976 ENR, headed 'No criticism intended'.

ELEVEN. Offprint of article by Tedesko entitled 'Bridge and structural engineers meet' from December 1976 issue of Civil Engineering.

TWELVE. Copy, stamped 'Not for publication', of three-page typewritten press release headed 'Anton Tedesko to receive 1978 Arthur J. Boase Award'.

THIRTEEN. Typescript (A4, 2 pp), headed 'Arthur J. Boase Award of the Reinforced Concrete Research Council, announcing the award to Tedesko.

FOURTEEN. Photocopy of article from April 1978 issue of ACI Journal, entitled 'Tedesko receives RCRC Boase Award'.

FIFTEEN. Photocopy of typewritten press release with manuscript emendations, from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering, headed 'For release from Monday on, August 28, 1978, 00.00 h | The International Awared of Merit in Structural Engineering remitted to Dr. Anton Tedesko'

SIXTEEN. Copy of article from the Concrete Industry Bulletin, Winter 1978, pp.19 and 20, entitled 'Boase Award to Anton Tedesko'. A further thirteen offprints, photocopies of articles, press releases and one newspaper cutting relating to Tedesko, dating from between 1967 and 1980. One in German and the rest in English.

Physical Description

1 folder

Miscellaneous, 1934-1961. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

This includes a quantity of copy letters from Franz Weiss to Tedesko; Affidavits signed by Tedesko supporting the temporary (wartime) stay of Margaret and Mary Weiss in the US, details including his income; typewritten list of stocks and shares, inc. maturity; a Christmas newsletter (1961) from Sally and Anton Tedesko.

Physical Description

1 folder

Print, Suggest