Date of Thesis



The analysis of Komendant's design of the Kimbell Art Museum was carried out in order to determine the effectiveness of the ring beams, edge beams and prestressing in the shells of the roof system. Finite element analysis was not available to Komendant or other engineers of the time to aid them in the design and analysis. Thus, the use of this tool helped to form a new perspective on the Kimbell Art Museum and analyze the engineer's work. In order to carry out the finite element analysis of Kimbell Art Museum, ADINA finite element analysis software was utilized. Eight finite element models (FEM-1 through FEM-8) of increasing complexity were created. The results of the most realistic model, FEM-8, which included ring beams, edge beams and prestressing, were compared to Komendant's calculations. The maximum deflection at the crown of the mid-span surface of -0.1739 in. in FEM-8 was found to be larger than Komendant's deflection in the design documents before the loss in prestressing force (-0.152 in.) but smaller than his prediction after the loss in prestressing force (-0.3814 in.). Komendant predicted a larger longitudinal stress of -903 psi at the crown (vs. -797 psi in FEM-8) and 37 psi at the edge (vs. -347 psi in FEM-8). Considering the strength of concrete of 5000 psi, the difference in results is not significant. From the analysis it was determined that both FEM-5, which included prestressing and fixed rings, and FEM-8 can be successfully and effectively implemented in practice. Prestressing was used in both models and thus served as the main contribution to efficiency. FEM-5 showed that ring and edge beams can be avoided, however an architect might find them more aesthetically appropriate than rigid walls.


August Komendant, Cycloid, Thin shells, Finite element analysis, ADINA

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Stephen Buonopane