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Nicholas L. Gianopulos, Structural Engineer

The Interview Series

Nicholas L. Gianopulos, PE, is currently Chairman Emeritus of Keast & Hood Co., Consultant Engineers in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, and was a founding member of the firm, formed in 1953 from the established and highly respected structural engineering firm of William H. Gravell Associates. Nick retired from Keast & Hood on October 1, 2009 at age 85.

For more than fifty years, Nick Gianopulos provided expertise, often simultaneously, for two tracks of engineering projects. The first was a contemporary track of new construction. The second was a track of historical preservation projects. On many of these projects, Nick worked closely with three of the most influential architects of the twentieth century – Louis I. Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Denise Scott-Brown.

Nick’s innate love of old structures attracted him to the field of historical preservation. Working initially with Sheldon Keast (also a principal at Keast & Hood) he began work on Independence Hall and Tower in 1959 and helped pioneer the field of historical preservation technology. Over the course of the next thirty years, he worked on many other historic buildings in the Philadelphia region, including Carpenters Hall, Christ Church and Tower, Fairmount Water Works, Philadelphia Academy of Music, Merchants’ Exchange Building, Second Bank of the United States, Congress Hall, American Philosophical Society, Arch Street Meeting House, the Edgar Allan Poe House, Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, and numerous others.

In addition to a diversified engineering practice, Nick was a visiting lecturer and critic for twenty-five years in the Department of Architecture, Graduate School of Fine Arts, at the University of Pennsylvania. He worked primarily with students in Penn’s Masters program in Architecture.

Nick Gianopulos has received many awards and citations for his historical restoration work including Preservationist of the Year (1990), presented at the Pennsylvania Annual State Preservation Conference, The Wyck-Strickland Award (1995), the Association for Preservation Technology International Award (2000), and the Master Builders Award from the Carpenters’ Company of the City and County of Philadelphia (2006).

Born and raised in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, a small town just twenty-three miles from State College, Nick was drafted into the United States Army in 1943 during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 and returned home to begin his college studies at Pennsylvania State University, where he graduated in 1950 with a BS degree in Architectural Engineering.

Nick Gianopulos has not only worked to preserve buildings and structures that embody classical canons of order and beauty, he has also ensured that these symbols of American democracy will exist as the heritage of future generations of Americans.

Originally published on Cosmos Philly by Eleftherios Kostans. Video by Vasilis Keisoglou.