Albert Fried

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Albert Fried
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Born23 Apr 1910
Vienna, Austria
Died5 Dec 2004
EducationCivil engineering
Alma materVienna University of Technology
  • Civil engineer
  • Bridge designer

Albert Fried (23 Apr 1910 – 5 Dec 2004) was an Australians civil engineer and bridge designer, responsible for the design of major bridge structures across the state of New South Wales. He is particularly noted for his large prestressed concrete structures.

Early Life

Albert Fried was born in Vienna, Austria in 1910, the son of a Jewish merchant Wilhelm Fried and his wife Laura Glattauer.[1] His father had come to Vienna from Frauenkirchen in eastern Austria near the Hungarian border and his mother's family had come to Vienna from Mikulov in what is now the Czech Republic.[1] Fried attended his local school where his potential for technical studies was recognised by his older brother who pushed him to apply for admission to the Technische Hochschule, now the TU Wien of Technology where he studied civil engineering.[1] While at university he attended a talk at the Urania, Vienna where an Australian representative spoke about the potential of the Australian nation and the sort of people that Australia was seeking as immigrants to assist with the development of the country. The talk caused Fried to consider the potential of starting a new life in a new country.[1]

Fried had recently finished his studies when the 1938 Austrian Anschluss referendum occurred in March 1938. Recognising that conditions would not be favorable for Jewish families, he applied for immigration to Australia and, having gained a visa, embarked on the RMS Niagara arriving in Sydney on 14 January 1939. His aim was to get “…as far away from Europe as possible.”[2] On his arrival in Sydney, Fried found work and within a year was sufficiently settled to sponsor his parents and two of his mother's brothers and their families to join him in Australia. Under the new laws operating in Austria at the time they had to leave virtually all their property and assets behind when they left. The Fried and the Glattauer families all settled in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Engineering Career

In Sydney Fried approached the Engineers Australia expressing his interest in working in bridge design.[1] He was introduced to Spencer Dennis who was the head of the bridge design office within the Department of Main Roads (New South Wales). Dennis was in the process of recruiting technical staff to design the bridges needed for an expanding road building program. The group Dennis assembled included European emigres such as Alfred Halvorseth from Norway, Vladimir Karmalsky and a number of his fellow countrymen from Russia, together with locally trained engineers including “Sandy” Britton, Frank Laws, Frank Cook and Alan Clinch. Fried fitted Dennis's vision for a highly skilled technological capability to support the bridge building. His undergraduate training in the analysis of reinforced concrete structures under French professors in Vienna proved valuable to the DMR where concrete was starting to take over from steel as the preferred material for small to moderate span structures.[2]

By the mid 1950s internationally developed Prestressed concrete techniques had allowed concrete bridges to take on large spans In NSW, Dr Lawrence Challen was appointed to lead a group within the DMR Bridge Section to develop designs for pre-stressed concrete bridges, a bridge at Bobbin Head, New South Wales being the first. Over the next few years the DMR developed a formidable expertise in prestressed concrete design, such that, by 1962, Albert Fried was able to take on the task of crossing the Georges River at Taren Point, New South Wales with a major, seven span, pre-stressed concrete bridge that was completed as the Captain Cook Bridge, New South Wales|Captain Cook Bridge in 1965.[3]

Fried follows this up with a design for a crossing of Middle Harbour at Roseville Bridge|Roseville with a 377m long curved pre-stressed concrete box girder bridge opened in 1966.[4] On an even larger scale he then designed a new 1,024m long, 23 span bridge over the Hunter River (New South Wales)|Hunter River at Stockton Bridge|Stockton. At the time of its opening, Stockton Bridge|Stockton was the longest bridge to have been built by the Department of Main Roads (New South Wales)|Department of Main Roads.[5][6]

The 185 metre long De Burghs Bridge over the Lane Cove River between West Pymble and North Ryde was designed along similar lines to Roseville Bridge and was opened in December 1967.[7]

For a crossing of Brisbane Water at The Rip near Ettalong Beach, New South , Fried developed a bridge using a unique three span, arch-shaped, cantilever truss system, build of largely precast elements stitched together with post tensioning.[8] The bridge, completed in 1974, provides a dramatic crossing of a treacherous tidal waterway. At the official opening the Commissioner of Main Roads Russell Thomas described the bridge as a “milestone in technology”.[9]

One of Fried's last projects for the DMR was the 610 metre long, six lane, bridge on what is now the M1 over the Hawkesbury River at Brooklyn, New South Wales build between 1969 and 1973. This Brooklyn Bridge (Sydney) is a composite steel and concrete bridge with 12 spans of triple box girders and a prestressed concrete deck. It has some of the deepest bridge foundations in the world. The innovative composite steel and prestressed concrete piles were driven up to 85 metres below the high tide mark.[10][11]

Another of Fried's legacies was his work on the development of the DMR's standard prestressed concrete “planks”. These were pre-cast, pre-tensioned, pre-stressed concrete units that could be manufactured at a factory, transported to site and be placed side by side on piers ready for a deck to be cast to form a simple bridge. Over the years thousands of these planks were manufactured to build hundreds of bridges in both urban and rural locations across the State. The planks allowed for low cost construction of simple bridges that could economically replace many aging timber bridges across the State.

Fried retired from the DMR in 1975. In his retirement he undertook consulting work with the firm McMIllan, Britton and Kell which included developing an innovative design for a bridge across the Mekong River. He also taught at the University of Technology Sydney.

Fried was elected an honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia. In 1970 he was one of he founders of the Concrete Institute of Australia and in 1988 was elected as one of the first Life members of that Institute.

He died in Sydney in 2004.

Design Philosophy

In an era before the advent of computers and the ability to undertake multiple interactions of stress analysis, Fried proved to be a master of quickly arriving a section dimensions that would work for a particular load and span. His colleagues claimed that, given a specific project, he could work out the general dimensions of a bridge “over a weekend on the back of a postage stamp” by Monday having a year's work ready for his junior engineers to refine the detailed sections and stress calculations.[2]

While Fried's primary goal with any bridge design was to arrive at the lowest cost structure that would serve the design brief, he had an eye for the aesthetics of his structures. A keen bushwalker, he drew inspiration for nature and particularly the large elegant Eucalyptus trees of the Sydney bushland. In his bridges he designed slender piers that looked to “grow” within a structure taking on tree like forms.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Roads and Traffic Authority, “Oral History Program Recordings – Gladesville Bridge - RTA-GB:FH6”, 5 January 2001
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Roads and Traffic Authority, “Oral History Program Recordings - Career Highlights - Ray Wedgwood”, 12 October 2004
  3. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (March 1979). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. p. 91.
  4. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (June 1966). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 98–104.
  5. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (December 1966). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. p. 46.
  6. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (March 1972). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 66–69.
  7. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (June 1967). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 115–119.
  8. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (September 1974). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 2–4.
  9. Fernandez Troyano, Leonardo (2003). Bridge Engineering: A Global Perspective. Thomas Telford, London. p. 215.
  10. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (June 1973). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 114–119.
  11. Department of Main Roads New South Wales (December 1971). Main Roads. Department of Main Roads New South Wales. pp. 54–58.

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