Outside the Torre Latinoamericana in Mexico City, a plaque commemorates the 43-story tower’s survival of a strong earthquake in 1957.
This longstanding structure – built upon a city’s muddy, unstable soils – serves as a monument to the success of one man who revolutionized the field of earthquake engineering.
Nathan M. Newmark, according to a biographical memoir from the National Academy of Sciences, was “a university unto himself,” authoring more than 200 papers and books that have guided generations of engineers in building safer structures capable of withstanding the movement of tectonic plates.
His additional accomplishments include seismic design criteria for numerous projects, including 70 nuclear power plants and the trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline System, which includes hundreds of miles of pipes used to transport crude oil.
His namesake equation, the Newmark’s sliding block method, calculates the movement of dams and slopes due to quakes, and is still used today to predict landslides.