Architect's son Mark Whitby was in typically ebullient form at his investiture as president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, generating ideas almost faster than he could deliver them and flying off at more tangents than you could shake a measuring stick at. The institution needs, he argued, more curiosity, a quality he has in abundance. Both the collapse of the Twin Towers and the wobble of the Millennium Bridge were due to a deficit in curiosity and he held all engineers, and the institution collectively, responsible. 'It was a problem we all suffered. Somehow we had not engaged, ' he said of engineers, arguing that 'thinking in the round'would have also predicted that burning aviation fuel would be the major problem with aircraft impact.
What about more mundane matters, such as institutional reform? Whitby said his views had moderated since he first became involved with the ICE. Then he believed that it should spend money on contemporary art - he was particularly keen on Simon Patterson's work 'The Great Bear', which replaces London Underground stations with names of famous people, including a line devoted to engineers. Now, he said, he is more interested in restoring the portraits.
Exciting things do happen at the ICE, however. Its chief executive was summarily dismissed the other week, apparently for being too radical.