Old Dominion University alumnus Danny Speight, '86 recently was named a Top 25 Newsmaker by Engineering News-Record (ENR). The civil engineering graduate was recognized for his role in executing a bold, untested plan to straighten a 3,250-ton building in Norfolk.
Commonly known as the "Leaning Tower of Granby," the more than 110-year-old historic building was a jewelry store and a prominent hotel in its heyday and later home to Bankers Trust. The 21-inch lean in the nine-story building, which was noticeable from the street, was nearly as old as the building.
Despite concerns and warnings that the building was unsafe, Speight, a Virginia Beach-based structural engineer, believed the building to be structurally stable despite the lean.
Speight, president of Speight Marshall & Francis P.C., worked with Hourigan Construction on the project. After more than 15 years and 70 sheets of drawings for each step of the process, 21 custom-made, 200,000-pound hydraulic-powered jacks and a ton of courage, the building now stands superbly straight as Savoy Apartments honoring its vibrant past and boasting a bright future.
Speight's innovative design earned him several engineering awards.
Not only is Speight's wife Michele an ODU graduate who earned a nursing degree in 1984, but his daughter Morgan is also an ODU alum who followed in her father's footsteps. She earned a degree in civil engineering technology in 2014 and is a structural engineer in her father's firm.