The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 35.0°F | Fair

Louis Berger

Louis Berger SM '40, an engineer renowned for work that included some of the major civil engineering projects of this century, died in New York City last Monday at the age of 82.

He died of congestive heart failure after a short illness.

Berger's career was marked by a number of innovations in the construction of highways and airport runways on soft ground. At the time of his death, Berger headed the Berger Group, the firm he founded in 1953 and built it into a prominent engineering business that presently employs about 3,000 people internationally.

Berger was born in 1914 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he grew up. He received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Tufts College in 1936 and a master's degree from MIT for his work in geology in 1940. He later went on to earn a doctorate in soil mechanics from Northwestern University.

Berger's earlier engineering accomplishments included the design of waterfront facilities along the Mississippi River while he was a member of the United States Coast Guard during World War II. In the early 1950s, Berger accomplished one of his first great projects - the design of part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

After founding the Berger Group, which is located in New Jersey, Berger went on to complete numerous large-scale and international projects, including the design of the Rangoon-to-Mandalay road in Burma, the 2,000-mile Trans-Amazon Highway, and the Ovda air base in Israel.

Under Berger's stewardship, his company has been responsible for the construction of over 100,000 miles of highway, 2,000 miles of railroad, and numerous bridges, airfields, and other projects in more than 100 countries.

In recent years, Berger worked to build an advanced computerized design system and supervised the building of the Second Bangkok International Airport. He continued to work on these projects even as he shied away from a formal management role in the Berger Group during the 1980s.

Berger is survived by his former wife Annette Block, two children, three siblings, three stepchildren, and two stepgrandchildren.