Arturo Ressi di Cervia, one of the preeminent constructors of slurry walls in the world, died of cancer at age 72 in New York City on Aug. 23.
Ressi worked on signature projects in many countries, but the most famous may be the Italian engineer's first job in the U.S.: construction of the slurry-wall perimeter of the World Trade Center basement.
"The quality of the work became evident on Sept. 11, 2001, when the walls were re-exposed after three decades. The walls withstood the Sept. 11 attack and helped prevent the Hudson River from flooding parts of lower Manhattan," says George J. Tamaro, a consultant with Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers.
That job and others were performed for ICOS Corp. of America, of which Ressi became president in 1984.
Projects included deep cutoffs for the Manicouagan and Wolf Creek dams and Hong Kong's New World Center plus slurry-wall and subways projects in the U.S. and abroad.
Many of his projects were firsts of their kind, made possible because Ressi invented and applied new methods and tools to the work. He held six U.S. patents on underground technologies.
Ressi was known for his finesse in negotiations. In an ENR cover profile, he said, "In this country, if you can get bonding capacity and the low bid, you can get a job. ... I like the other way better. To negotiate a contract with all the subtleties involved is really my forte."
In 2007, Ressi joined Kiewit as special project executive with its eastern district, returning to the World Trade Center to work on the slurry-wall extension of the new deep basement.
"Arturo was a pioneer in foundation engineering and carried that same passion during his later years with us. More importantly, he was a wonderful person and family man," says Hank Adams, division manager of Kiewit's eastern district.
Ressi was an ENR Newsmaker and received engineering and service awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Deep Foundations Institute. He also was active in the U.S. Society on Dams, The Moles and other industry groups.
Moles Executive Director Gerard Carty says Ressi was called "Mr. Slurry Wall" and notes that a scholarship fund is being established in his memory.
Contributions to The Moles Scholarship Fund-Ressi Scholarship can be sent to 577 Chestnut Ridge Rd., Woodcliff Lake, N.J. 07677.
Tamaro describes Ressi as "larger than life in mind and spirit, a bundle of adjectives, inventor, raconteur, bon vivant, world traveler—and always optimistic."