Nigel Priestley, Emeritus Director of the UME School, had been awarded the honour of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Nigel Priestley is Emeritus Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of California at San Diego.
His research is focused on the seismic design of concrete and masonry structures, and on seismic design philosophy. He has published more than 650 books, technical papers and reports, mainly related to seismic design, and has received more than 30 international awards for his research. He is a fellow of the ACI, the IPENZ, NZ Society for Earthquake Engineering, NZ Concrete Society, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
In 2008 he received the first edition of the ROSE School Prize, on the basis of a unanimous decision of the Scientific Committee of the Eucentre Foundation, with the following motivation: Nigel Priestley has an exceptional record of research results that have influenced the state-of-the-art and the professional practice on many aspects, such as the consideration of thermal effects on bridge decks, and the seismic design and assessment of masonry and concrete buildings, precast structures, tanks, silos, port structures, and bridges. His books on “Seismic Design of Reinforced Concrete and Masonry Structures”, “Seismic Design and Retrofitting of Bridges” and “Displacement Based Seismic Design of Structures” have had an extraordinary impact on the evolution of the profession, and have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Spanish. He played a fundamental role in the development of new lines of thought in seismic design, particularly with his works on Myths and Fallacies in Earthquake Engineering and on Displacement Based Design. He participated in many world class engineering projects, such as the Rion Antirion Bridge, the Bolu Viaducts, the Port of Los Angeles, always providing effective and often original and unconventional contributions. His former PhD students, spread in universities and consulting firms of all continents, and his enthusiastic participation have been essential for the establishment, development and recognition of the ROSE School. The unusual combination of scientific competence, education skills, fast and innovative thinking capacity, leadership attitude, all tempered by an acute sense of humour and wide spectrum culture made him the ideal recipient of the first ROSE School Prize, setting up a very high standard for future editions.
Many things can describe Nigel Priestley’s human and personal side.
He loves having good time with friends, considering personal relations as important as technical issues even in research and education. He has a passion for mountains and the Alps in particular (no matter whether New Zealand or Italian), he loves the sea, sailing, fishing and Baja California.
Nigel Priestley considers very important his relations with universities from all over the world, to spread the verb of displacement based design. On this issue it is very peculiar that he has been able to become a “honorary citizen” in three different countries, spending time in New Zealand, in the USA and in Italy.