Hoover Dam: Evolution of the Dam's Design


Hoover Dam was a monumental accomplishment for its era which set new standards for feasibility studies, structural analysis and behavior, quality control during construction, and post-construction performance evaluations. One of the most important departures was the congressional mandate placed upon the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to employ an independent Colorado River Board to perform a detailed review of the agency's design and issue recommendations that significantly affected the project's eventual form and placement. Of its own accord Reclamation also employed an independent board of consultants which convened twice yearly several years prior to and during construction of the project, between 1928 and 1935. Reclamation also appointed a special board of consultants on mass concrete issues, which had never been previously convened. Many additional landmark studies were undertaken which shaped the future of dam building. Some of these included: the employment of terrestrial photogrammetry to map the dam site and validate material quantities; insitu instrumentation of the dam's concrete; and consensus surveys of all previous high dams to compare their physical, geologic, and hydrologic features with those proposed at Hoover Dam. The project was also unique because the federal government provided of all materials, except the concrete aggregate, to minimize risk of construction claims and delays.

Meeting Name

Hoover Dam 75th Anniversary History Symposium (2010: Oct. 21-22, Las Vegas, NV)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Colorado River; Construction Claim; Feasibility Studies; Federal Governments; Hydrologic Features; Material Quantities; Terrestrial Photogrammetries; U.s. Bureau Of Reclamations; Concretes; Management Science; Structural Design; Dams

Geographic Coverage

Clark County, Nevada

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2010 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Oct 2010