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Tedesko, Anton, 1903-1994
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Anton Tedesko Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


Anton Tedesko was a German-born structural engineer who pioneered the development of thin-shell concrete roofs. Consists of four small groups of papers of Anton Tedesko.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of four small groups of papers of Anton Tedesko: 1) letters by Tedesko (1936-1966), to his family, particularly to his uncle, Dr. Franz Xavier Weiss, approx. 115 (mainly typewritten, some handwritten); 2) his unpublished typewritten autobiography, 83 pp., consisting of 3 parts: I (to 1920), III (1927-1929), V (1938-1989)--parts II and IV are missing; 3) 29 printed and typed ítems relating to Tedesko; 4) miscellaneous material: copy letters by Weiss to Tedesko, affidavits, stock lists, Christmas (1961) newsletter.


Organized in simple files: Tedesko material (letters, manuscripts), material about Tedesko (typed and printed), and miscellaneous material.

Collection Creator Biography:

Tedesko, Anton, 1903-1994

Anton Tedesko (1903-1994) was a German-born American structural engineer, best known for his work in the field of reinforced thin-shell concrete design, often for significant industrial, institutional, and government construction projects, largely in the United States during World War II and the Cold War. His most famous buildings include the Hayden Planetarium, in New York City (1934), and the Vertical Assembly Building, at NASA's Cape Canaveral Launch Complex (1966).

Tedesko grew up in Austria, where he attended Technische Universität, in Vienna, and received a diploma in Structural Engineering in 1926. After moving to the United States for two years to pursue structural steel detailing and design work, he returned to Austria in 1929 and briefly served as an assistant to Professor Ernest Melan, a steel structure specialist. He received an additional diploma from Technische Universität Berlin in 1930 and went to work for the well-established Wiesbaden-Biebrich-based firm, Dyckerhoff & Widmann, that was then pioneering the engineering and construction of concrete buildings, bridges, dams, and tunnels in Germany. In the 1920s, Dyckerhoff & Widmann teamed up with Walter Bauersfeld, who developed the famous cupola for the Zeiss Planetarium, and obtained several patents on Bauersfeld's framework and reinforcement processes. During his time at Dyckerhoff & Widmann, Anton Tedesko worked alongside famous engineers, including Franz Dischinger (1887-1953), Ulrich Finsterwalder (1897-1989), and Hubert Rüsch (1903-1979), whose ideas greatly influenced his work.

After two years at the company, Dyckerhoff & Widmann's executives decided, based on Tedesko's previous experience overseas and extensive knowledge of thin-shell design, to send him to the United States to work for the Chicago consulting engineering firm Roberts & Schaefer, with the goal of introducing the German firm's methods of thin-shell design to the United States. Slowed down markedly by the Great Depression, the join venture struggled to find shell construction projects, and many designs were drafted while few were built. Tedesko's team constructed their first temporary shell in the form of a small circular-barrel roof for the Brook Hill Farm Dairy Barn at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, followed by the Hayden Planetarium, in New York, in 1934, the first permanent shell built in the United States. Shortly after, the growing unrest in Europe immediately preceding World War II, coupled with the German company's struggles to adapt their strategies to American business practices, led Dyckerhoff & Widmann to give up on their American prospects.

Anton Tedesko, however, elected to stay on with Roberts & Schaefer and went on to design close to 60 concrete shells during his time there from 1934 to 1967, including many airport hangars, factories, and storage facilities. After marrying American Sally Murray, with whom he later had two children, Peter and Suzanne, Tedesko became an American citizen in 1938. Shell design in the United States began to catch hold following several successful projects led by Tedesko in the late 1930s, including the Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania (1936), a major water filtering plant in Hibbing, Minnesota (1939), and the cupola for the McAlister Auditorium at Tulane University in New Orleans (1939). Prior to the start of World War II, Roberts & Schaefer built several notable facilities for the Armed Forces, including Air Force seaplane hangars at North Island in San Diego, a major Army warehouse in Columbus, Ohio, and a hangar for the Signal Corps in Dayton, Ohio. During the war, government agencies regularly contracted shell structures with Roberts & Schaefer, due to their design's economic use of materials and efficient industrial production methods. During this boom, Tedesko was put in charge of the firm's Washington D.C. office, where he oversaw many government projects.

After World War II, Tedesko returned to Chicago to serve as the structural manager of Roberts & Schaefer's operations at their main office, during which time he completed massive Air Force aircraft hangars in Rapid City, South Dakota,and Limestone, Maine (1948), the Denver Municipal Coliseum in Colorado (1952), and the shell structures for the terminal building at the St. Louis International Airport (1954). From 1956 to 1967, Tedesko served as the vice-president of Roberts & Schaefer's New York office, where he worked with well-known architects, Minoru Yamasaki and I. M. Pei. While in New York, Tedesko designed the May D&F Entrance Canopy in Denver (1959) and NASA's Vertical Assembly Building, at Cape Canaveral (1966), which housed the assembly of the Saturn space vehicles and was, at the time, the largest building by volume in the world. Following his work for NASA, Tedesko received a Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1966, and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1967.

In 1967, Tedesko left Roberts & Schaefer to found his own consulting engineering company, where he served as a consultant for the United States Air Force and many other large firms and as an expert witness for various legal proceedings surrounding structural failures and accidents. Tedesko continued to consult, lecture, and participate in professional committees surrounding shell design until his death in 1994. In 1998, the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) Foundation created the Anton Tedesko Medal in his honor.

Collection History


This collection was purchased in 2013. AM 2014-9

Archival Appraisal Information:

Nothing was removed during processing the collection in 2013.

Processing Information:

Finding Aid written by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2013.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Anton Tedesko Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184