Skip to main content
Books On Engineering

The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture

The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture

The Stone Skeleton: Structural Engineering of Masonry Architecture
By Jacques Heyman

List Price: $45.99
Price: $40.59 Details

Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
Ships from and sold by

46 new or used available from $32.92

Average customer review: logo
(11 customer reviews)

Book Description

In this book, Heyman provides a thorough and intuitive understanding of masonry structures such as arch bridges, Greek temples, and Gothic cathedrals. Although the approach is firmly scientific, the author does not use complex mathematics. He introduces the basis of masonry analysis in the first two chapters, after which he considers individual structures--including piers, pinnacles, towers, vaults and domes--in more detail. This lucid and informative text will be of particular interest to structural engineers, practicing architects and others involved in the renovation and care of old stone buildings.

Book Details

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #236113 in Books
  • Brand: Brand: Cambridge University Press
  • Published on: 1997-07-28
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: 8.98" h x .39" w x 5.98" l, .59 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 172 pages


  • Used Book in Good Condition

Editorial Reviews

"...this book is a delight for the student of architecture, engineering, history, and art... The book is clearly written, meticulously illustrated, and beautifully bound. The author's fascination and love of his subject is infectious." M.-A. Erki, Applied Mechanics Review

" of the most fascinating books on structural engineering that this reviewer has read in recent years." S.C. Anand, Choice

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful.
5For Layman AND Engineer Alike
By Ray
Jacques Heyman's text is without doubt one of the most interesting books I've read in the last couple of years. I became interested in gothic architecture after seeing for the first time in person a gothic structure, the St. Eustache church in the Les Halles area of Paris. It was 2001, and this first sight of such a building forced me to hearken back to my undergraduate engineering mechanics classes from a decade earlier. The stunning magnificence of my "find" in central Paris that day eventually drove me to more fully explore the structural operation of this style of architecture which lay behind the dramatic visual appearance of "gothic."

I began my little quest by identifying, and then visiting, the principal gothic structures in France (with the help of such great books as Stan Parry's introduction to gothic architecture). I then attempted to identify the key architectural elements common in all these structures. Finally, I researched the historical development of the style all the way from Suger's St. Denis basilica to the emergence of the Renaissance. But all this research left me with some unanswered questions. How do simple forms, such as the pointed arch, the flying buttress, and the barrel vault, actually operate? Why would such forms remain standing up, even when, in some cases, surrounding parts of the building had been destroyed in times of war, or perhaps by stone-robbing to build other structures (for example, structures at Ourscamp, Soissons, and Caen)? For that matter, why even use features such as the flying buttress, when other, simpler forms would suffice?

The Stone Skeleton thoroughly answers these questions, not from an aesthetic or historical view, but from an engineering view, where geometry, stereometry, thrusts, force vectors, the pull of gravity, and the physical properties of concrete and stone are the principal actors of interest. Although it is true that the book does investigate the subject through the lens of engineering (this is the books forte, and why it is such an invaluable addition to the subject), and the volume occupies itself at length with the examination of forces present in concrete and stone structures, most anyone with a moderate mathematical background and the patience to re-read a paragraph until the concepts become clear can profit from this text. In my mind, it is a missing link in the immense genre of gothic architecture texts.

I picture this text to have two related, but nevertheless discrete, audiences. The first is the one described above, the person who is interested in gothic architecture as an historical and aesthetic art phenomenon, and wishes to develop a greater understanding of the structural factors behind such structures. With a little work and patience, the text more than fulfils this need. But the second audience is the actual engineering student or in-practice engineer who wishes to develop a more sophisticated knowledge of the mechanics of concrete and stone structures. In this sense, I could easily see this work used as the textbook for an entire undergraduate or master's level course, or perhaps as a text for a directed independent study, where the end result is a comprehensive understanding of the mechanics of stone structures and the actual operation of the architectural devices present in gothic structures (barrel vaults, groin vaults, domes, arches, pointed arches, piers, flying buttresses, pinnacles, and so on).

I remember at some point in my gothic investigations I came up with a nagging question: why is the lower side of a flying buttress curved? Why not just lay a straight, diagonal beam from the outer wall of the building to the outer buttress pier? Was the curve added for aesthetics? Or was there some important design principle at play? Eager to find the answer and certain that this little fact would be easily discovered, I turned to my mini-library of gothic, only to be repeatedly disappointed (often, tantalizingly so, with texts that ALMOST addressed the question). The answer finally came in Heyman's text, along with many such similar questions. If you, too, are interested in such questions, this book is for you.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
4Four Stars
By Ric
Another excellent book concerning the building of a cathedral. Structural engineering 101 is a helpful prerequisite.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
5A Great Book
By Neal B. Mitchell, Jr.
A great book that everyone should that it provides the reader with a good understanding about the structural behavior of these buildings,.

See all 11 customer reviews...
We strive to provide excellent resources for our site visitors.
We make available for information whatever we consider to be a good source of information to Engineering students and practitioners.
If you have any complaint about any of our partners products, please let us know by writing a review at Amazon Product Reviews, so that we may remove it from our store