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News Release

Robert Park 1933-2004

10 November 2004

Professor Bob Park died on the 10 November 2004 in his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

  Dr David Hopkins with Emeritus Professor Bob Park
Dr David Hopkins with Emeritus Professor Bob Park at the University of Canterbury special Symposium held in 2002 to celebrate his lifetime contribution and that of Emeritus Professor Tom Paulay

The following is a tribute to Bob Park by Earthquake Engineering NZ Chairman David Hopkins, who was a former student of Bob’s at the time that his father, Harry Hopkins, was Head of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand:

Bob Park was well known to many in the international earthquake engineering profession. He was a major contributor to New Zealand’s international reputation in earthquake engineering, and in large part the reason that Earthquake Engineering NZ exists. This organisation seeks to maintain this reputation and to export earthquake engineering skills overseas. In doing so, it is building on the profile that Bob Park helped create.

Consciously or sub-consciously, we all have role models. Those of us who were priveleged to be influenced by Bob both personally and professionally, whether at unversity or later, had one of the best there could be.

Bob was chairman of the committee that organised the 12WCEE in Auckland in February 2000. It was a great success with over 1700 delegates. We received many compliments about how well it was run. No one else could have inspired and motivated the committee to achieve such standards. We were all proud to be part of it. By the time he fell ill in the middle of 1999, the bulk of the work had been planned and the standards set by Bob. Four years later, in August 2004, Bob and his wife Pauline attended the 13WCEE in Vancouver.

This determination was an integral part of the package that was Bob Park. Without it he would not have achieved anything like what he did. And he would not have touched so many lives – or made such a difference.

He gave the full measure of his talent for the good of others, here and overseas. Many have benefitted from his influence. Many more will benefit when major earthquakes strike.

Bob Park was a former Director and Honorary Member of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering. The Association countries include Ukraine, UK and USA; Turkey and Taiwan; Russia and Romania; Portugal and The Philippines; Norway and Nepal; Mexico and Macedonia; Iran and Israel; Indonesia and India; Greece, Germany and France; Ecuador and Dominican Republic; Croatia and Colombia; Chile, China and Canada; Bulgaria and Bangladesh; Austria and Armenia; Argentina and Australia.

Research Contributions

Emeritus Professor Robert Park is known throughout the world for his contributions to research and development of design standards for earthquake resistant concrete structures.

He published two books, contributed chapters to seven books and published more than 300 papers over a period of more than 40 years. These have covered reinforced, prestressed and precast concrete, with a focus on the limit state of the materials and members. His research has largely been directed at improving the seismic performance of these materials, and the structures made from them.

In spite of this impressive volume of work, it is the quality of his research, its relevance to design practice, the perceptive analysis of core issues addressed, and the clarity of its presentation that earnt him over 20 awards for technical papers, as well as honours from numerous professional bodies including the Royal Society, American Concrete Society, NZ Concrete Society, Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering

Further measures of his contribution and standing in the profession may be gauged by his membership of 12 international committees and 17 national committees for the development of standards for the seismic resistant design of concrete structures.

Professor Park supervised 22 Ph.D. theses and 40 ME theses, authored by students who have themselves become leaders in the engineering profession. These students have all benefited from Professor Park’s enthusiasm, dedication, work ethic and ability to identify and analyse key issues.

Through his own efforts, and through his many students, Professor Park’s influence became dominant and immensely respected in New Zealand earthquake engineering design and has spread to many overseas countries. Communities in New Zealand and overseas have benefited from his knowledge, insights and wisdom. They will know the full measure of that benefit when they experience a major earthquake. Structures influenced by Professor Park’s research, teaching and influence on the design profession can be expected to maintain their integrity when subject to the demanding deformations imposed by strong earthquake ground shaking.


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