This piece was first published on December 16 on

Charles H. Thornton Jr., 83, a 60-year industry innovator in structural engineering and education, died on Dec. 12 at his home in Easton, Md., following a brief illness, said Thornton Tomasetti LLC, the design firm he co-founded and led as chairman and CEO. He was instrumental in "often taking on technically challenging projects that others said couldn’t be done," the company said, including leading design of two of the world's first supertall structures—Petronas Towers in Malaysia and Taipei 101 in Taiwan—while also steering the ACE Mentor Program of America he launched to connect thousands of students and industry professionals in driving next-generation workforce growth.

That foresight earned Thornton, known as "Charlie," ENR's Award of Excellence in 2001.

“Charlie was a visionary, foreseeing the needs of structural engineering, our clients, the building industry and the public it serves,” said Richard Tomasetti, the firm's co-founder and Thornton's long-time colleague.

"There is a handful of structural engineers who have had a profound impact on the profession over the last 100 years," said Ron Klemencic, chairman and CEO of Magnusson Klemencic Associates. "Charlie Thornton was clearly among that small number. He was immensely talented and fiercely competitive, inspiring many, including me. One of his greatest legacies is the ACE Mentor program which has positively impacted countless numbers of next-generation engineers."

Read more from Jeff Yoders and Scott Lewis at RECORD's sister site,