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Former Arup Group chairman dies aged 94

Sir Jack Zunz, structural engineer on the Sydney Opera House, has passed away at the age of 94.

The civil engineer was previously co-chairman at Arup Group, a company he first joined in 1950.

Sir Jack was most widely known for his role on the iconic Sydney structure project, which he worked on from 1961-1973. He also contributed to the building of HSBC’s Hong Kong headquarters and the Standard Bank building in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Closer to home, Sir Jack helped create Stansted Airport’s first terminal and Britannic House for BP.

Arup Group chairman Gregory Hodkinson said: “Jack had an enormous, positive influence in shaping Arup into the firm it is today, and on many of us personally. He was a great engineer, a great man and will be sorely missed.”

Sir Jack was born on Christmas Day, 1923, in Germany, and shortly after moved to South Africa with his family.

He attended the University of Witwatersrand to study engineering, but his studies were interrupted when he joined the army to support the fight against the Nazis during the Second World War.

Yevgeniya Yussupova: Sydney Opera House

Yevgeniya Yussupova: Sydney Opera House

Yevgeniya Yussupova: Sydney Opera House

Sir Jack had close ties with London, first travelling there to meet Sir Ove Arup in 1950, and later returning in 1961 before taking on the Sydney Opera House project.

He stayed with Arup for the remainder of his career, becoming co-chairman in 1984. He retired in 1989.

Sir Jack said that helping to create the Sydney Opera House was an “irrevocable change” in his life and that life got a little “duller” after the project was completed.

For years, the building could not be brought to life, as original plans for the sail-like structure did not take engineering into account, and the building would not stand up.

Sir Jack and his team solved the problem by constructing the shells of the ‘sails’ into a series of precast concrete arch ribs. The approach was subsequently adopted in many other complex structures.

The project also pioneered the use of computers in structural design.

Sir Jack is survived by his wife Babs, his daughter Laura and son Leslie.

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