Portrait of K. Terzaghi.

© [2]

O.Univ.-Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Dr.h.c.mult.. Karl von Terzaghi (1883–1963) is the Austrian whom the construction industry honours worldwide as the founder of soil mechanics and as the first "geotechnical engineer" in the comprehensive sense. Professor Terzaghi is not only widely regarded as the "leading civil engineer of the century", but is also considered one of the most distinguished personalities in the field of technical sciences. [1]

As early as 1925, K. Terzaghi's fundamental book "Earthworks Mechanics on the Basis of Soil Physics" was published in Vienna, which is considered to be the birth of modern soil mechanics. In 1929, K. Terzaghi founded the world's first university institute for soil mechanics at TU Wien. With his appointment, TU Wien in Vienna immediately became the "Mecca" of engineers interested in earthworks and foundation engineering. The earthworks laboratory, which served as a model for the establishment of similar institutes in many countries around the world, was an attraction for students, engineers and scientists from almost all parts of the world from the beginning of the 1930s, as were Terzaghi's lectures. Numerous standard test methods for the investigation of soils were developed in the Vienna laboratory, which are still in use worldwide today. [1]

K. Terzaghi was active worldwide and was the first president (1936–1957) of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE). To this day, his work is not only known to every geotechnical engineer worldwide.

In honour of K. Terzaghi, a Terzaghi archive is currently being set up on the premises of TU Wien. The opening is planned on the occasion of the 21st World Conference of the ISSMGE to take place in Vienna in 2026

In this context, it should be mentioned that the "Terzaghi Library, opens an external URL in a new window" has been set up at the NGI (Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, University of Oslo), in which, among other things, exhibits from Vienna are also exhibited.


  1. Brandl, H.: Prof. Dr. mult. Karl v. Terzaghi - Bodenmechanik und Geotechnik. Östereichische Ingenieur- und Architektenzeitschrift (ÖIAZ), 141. Jg., Heft 7-8/1996.
  2. Brandl, H.: Die Geschichte des Institutes für Grundbau der Technischen Universität Wien. Heft 2 aus Mittelungen für Grundbau, Bodenmechanik und Felsbau, Wien, 1983.