The world's greatest buildings provide a window on great math and great design.
One of the world’s great buildings, the Sydney Opera House, provides an illuminating example. In January 1957, the young Danish architect Jørn Utzon won a competition to design an opera and concert hall complex on a dramatic piece of land that juts into Sydney Harbor. Utzon’s design featured an arrangement of soaring vaulted roofs that looked like a cluster of sailboats under full sail. However, the path from Utzon’s imaginative design of the vaults to their realization would prove to be a formidable challenge. It would take from 1957 to 1963 — years of exploration, analysis, disagreements, and hard work — to determine a workable combination of geometry, materials, and methods of construction.