Naoum Shebib
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Naoum Shebib - The structural engineer

Relying on his high technical expertise, Naoum Shebib audaciously confronted – and met – structural and architectural challenges.

During the early 1950s, there were no buildings taller than twelve stories in the Egyptian capital. Modern construction techniques were not yet applied to tall buildings, and it was feared that such works could not stand on Cairo's clay soil. Naoum Shebib nevertheless built Egypt's first two skyscrapers, thus demonstrating his courage as well as intellectual skills.

Years later, he used his expertise as a structural engineer to design and build the Cairo Tower. This imposing work required a solid foundation that would connect with the rock sitting 25 meters below the surface. The Cairo Tower consists of a central reinforced concrete core, four peripheral columns and circular platforms distributed along the tower's entire height. These platforms support the tower's external concrete components, which are shaped like irregular diamonds.

In order to cover large areas, Naoum Shebib used reinforced concrete thin shell roofs that relied on the support of peripheral columns. This technique required great knowledge of the properties of concrete and an ability to execute complex calculations. From 1946, Naoum Shebib incorporated single or multiple thin shells into various works, notably the Ali Baba cinema, the Cairo Motor commercial building and several churches. In 1955, he shared his findings with colleagues in Amsterdam at the Congress of the International Federation for Prestressing (FIP: Fédération Internationale de la Précontrainte).

In Canada, from 1974 to 1977, Naoum Shebib continued to work as a structural engineer for the engineering firm SNC *, where he continued to work on reinforced concrete thin shell structures. Among other projects, he worked on the design of the Gentilly 2 nuclear power plant building.

* SNC – Surveyer, Nenniger & Chênevert inc., which later became the SNC-Lavalin firm.