Structural analysis of the Cosmic Rays Laboratory

Kathleen Kelly, Maria E.M. Garlock, David P. Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Félix Candela is known as one of the greatest thin shell concrete designers and builders of the 20 th century. His works were mostly of the hyperbolic paraboloid (hypar) geometric form and mostly only 4 cm (1.5 inches) thick The first of his many hypar shells was the Cosmic Rays Laboratory, built in 1951 on the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) campus in México City. The shell design consists of two adjacent hypar saddles supported by a platform and stiffened by three arches. This paper explores the design of the Cosmic Rays Laboratory using finite element models. The structural behavior of the Laboratory as built is compared to one that is of a barrel form and one that does not contain any stiffening arches. Ultimately, this investigation gives insight into Félix Candela's earliest hypar design which served as both a learning experience and a prelude to his remarkable career as a shell builder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
Issue number163
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Building and Construction
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


  • Candela
  • Finite element analysis
  • Hyperbolic paraboloid
  • Thin shell concrete


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