Jack Wright: a golden year for the Arch

20150518 Jack Wright 016Fifty years ago this October, the St. Louis skyline was changed forever by the construction of the Gateway Arch, built as a monument to U.S. westward expansion.

Jack Wright, CE’61, worked for MacDonald Construction, the company that was awarded the contract for construction of the Arch in March 1962. MacDonald Construction was the general contractor on the Arch and sub-contracted the steelwork to the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co.

The 630-foot-tall Arch is made up of 142 double-walled triangular sections that are covered in quarter-inch-thick stainless steel. The keystone triangular section that connects the north and south legs was put into place on Oct. 28, 1965. It opened to the public in June 1967.

Fresh out of school, Wright worked on surveying and helped ensure quality control throughout the project. He says that the $13 million project was not just a job, it was a learning experience for everyone involved.

“There was an overarching schedule,” Wright says. “But, anytime you have a one-of-a-kind project, you schedule the best you can and you learn things as the project evolves. There’s no template or past work that you can use to help you with a project like this.”

Wright says everyone working on the project knew the Arch was special, but its significance wasn’t clear.

“In that time, we were just happy to have jobs,” he says. “It wasn’t just another project, but I don’t think the workforce viewed it as the celebrity it’s become.”

Wright is proud of his work on the Arch, and he visits every year — on Builders’ Day, which will be held on
Oct. 28 this year.

“Once a year, everyone who worked on the Arch gets together to reminisce and we sign posters and talk with people,” Wright says. “I feel like a rock star when I get to sign them.”

Today, Wright, a member of the Missouri S&T Academy of Civil Engineers, owns Ladue Building and Engineering, a construction consulting firm.

Around the Puck

Google electromagnetic interference

A decade from now, your smartphone won’t look anything like it does today — at least on the inside.

[Read More...]

Lecture series brings chemistry grads full circle

James O. Stoffer wanted to give Missouri S&T students a chance to learn from eminent scholars and innovators in polymer chemistry and related areas. So last fall the Curators’ Distinguished Professor emeritus of chemistry established a lecture series to showcase his former students and inspire current ones.

[Read More...]

Fueling space flight

It started with a boyhood dream of becoming an astronaut fueled from watching the 1995 Hollywood portrayal of the ill‑fated Apollo 13 lunar mission.

[Read More...]

Record gift for EWB

From clean drinking water to flood control, Missouri S&T students participating in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are changing lives in Central and South America.

[Read More...]

Million-dollar gift supports scholarships

Steve Wunning, ME’73, has established a $1 million scholarship endowment at Missouri S&T: the Steven H. and Lyneve C. Wunning Scholarship Fund.

[Read More...]