Monuments to a life

Gene Figg’s artistic bridges will have to stand for him now

Article April 18, 2002
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Eugene Figg Jr., P.E., was scheduled to accept the American
Society of Civil Engineering’s highest honor, the Outstanding Projects
and Leaders Award (OPAL), on April 27. Instead, his daughter Linda Figg, who
has worked with him on numerous bridges over the past 20 years, will have to
accept the honor for him posthumously.

Gene Figg died on March 20 from a severe infection after successful treatment for acute leukemia. He was president and director of bridge art at the Figg Engineering Group, the firm he guided since 1988 when he became sole owner of Figg and Muller (F&M) Engineers in Tallahassee, Fla.

“It’s all about creating bridges as art.
That’s what we’re really trying to do,” Figg said in an
interview with ROADS & BRIDGES in 2000.

His artistic bridges appeared on the covers of 85 magazines.
They also won over 150 bridge design awards for his firm. He was inducted into
the National Academy of Engineers in October 2001 “for leadership . . .
excellence, structural innovation and efficient construction of major
bridges.” Figg won the John A. Roebling Medal for Lifetime Achievement in
2000, sponsored by the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania and
ROADS & BRIDGES.

Figg has bridge projects completed, under design or under
construction in 33 states and four foreign countries. He was considered a
pioneer in the use of concrete segmental bridge construction, starting with the
Seven Mile and Long Key Bridges in the Florida Keys.

One of the reasons for Figg’s success was his
extraordinary efforts at public involvement.

“One of the important activities to us is dealing with
the public and designing bridges that the public wants,” he said.
“We’re convinced that the bridge tells you what the public thinks
of itself.”

On the Maumee River Bridge in Toledo, Ohio, for example, the
public voted on choices for different parts of the bridge. The final decisions
were ranked on a scale of 1 to 10. One of the preferences, with a score of 8.6,
was for a four-sided glass pylon, so Figg worked it into the alternative
designs. At another session, the public was involved in approving the final
design.

Figg was born in Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 4, 1936, and
graduated from the Citadel in 1958 with a degree in civil engineering. He
joined the Florida State Road Department in Tallahassee the same year. He
helped found the firm of Barrett, Daffin & Figg in Tallahassee in 1964.

In 1978, he established F&M Engineers, which later
became the Figg Engineering Group.

Along with his other honors and awards, Figg was a
registered professional engineer in 39 states and a fellow of the Florida
Engineering Society. He was a member of the Florida Institute of Consulting
Engineers, the National Society of Professional Engineers, the American
Concrete Institute, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute and the
Post-Tensioning Institute. He also was on the board of the Construction
Industry Round-table and a founding member of the American Segmental Bridge
Institute.

Figg is succeeded by his wife, Ann Ruth Figg, and four
daughters, Linda Figg and Nancy Duessel of Tallahassee, Karen Cox of New York
and Donna Lacey of Destin, Fla.

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