Michael John Nigel Priestley was born in 1943 and passed away in 2014.
He has been a scientist, a designer, a carpenter, a gourmet, a poet and a free man.
His influence on the growth of many people and on the evolution of several areas of structural engineering has been enormous.
For this reasons, his name has been borrowed to entitle a number of initiatives in earthquake engineering, including an international seminar, a scientific prize, a museum.
For this same reason a number of friends, colleagues, fellows and alumni have devised a volume of memories, in which his scientific and human heritage will be presented and discussed from several points of view, in the hope of further disseminating seeds of sapience.
Michael Collins was one of Nigel schoolmates in the early sixties at the University of Canterbury. The closure of his contribution may possibly best describe our feelings when remembering Nigel:
Nigel Priestly changed my life in a number of positive ways. First in 1963 he showed me how to lift my academic performance by devoting some hours each day to studying the fundamentals of engineering. Then in 1997 he demonstrated that you could be a successful North American academic and still spend two or even three months a year in New Zealand where the spectacular scenery that we both loved is inspiring and helps the creative spirit. Finally in 2001 he made me part of the ROSE School at Pavia with the concept of teaching intensive graduate courses on seismic design of structures in a whole new way.
As the Roman statesman, consul, governor of Britain and keeper of the aqueducts, Julius Frontinus stated when writing to Pliny about the death of a mutual friend:
“Remembrance will endure, if the life shall have merited it.”
For Nigel the life has merited it.