The pioneering work of the first wind engineers has founded many of the testing and analysis methodologies in use by wind tunnel labs today—from the development of boundary layer wind tunnels to aeroelastic testing of buildings and bridges. The foundation of modern wind engineering and its underlying assumption are now being re-visited on our path towards the future.
Major developments of the past 50 years of wind engineering are highlighted, as well as a view on the 50 years to come. The first conference on Wind Effects on Buildings and Structures was held in Teddington, UK in 1963, just a few years before the council was founded. Since then our continuous reach further into the skies has developed, and been facilitated, by the field of wind engineering. Now, record breaking buildings and bridges with flexibility and spans far exceeding the tallest of buildings are being constructed.
This development has necessitated us to revisit the foundations of wind engineering through extensive full-scale measurement of the translation from incoming wind to wind actions—on buildings as well as bridges. At the same time improved boundary layer generation techniques are emerging, and the physical simulation of non-synoptic winds such as tornadoes and downbursts are being developed. The development of building designs is expected to follow the same trends as seen for long-span bridges. Buildings will be taller and lighter. New lighter, stiffer and higher strength materials will be applied. This trend will increase the need for geometrical optimizations, exploration of methods to increase the structural damping as well as optimized simulations of aeroelastic effects in a simple and yet representative way.