Ri Patrons present: Recipe for a skyscraper

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 17 September

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • The Shard rising up behind Southwark Cathedral
    Credit: Fred Romero via Wikimedia Commons


Free for Ri Patrons

Standard £16

Concession £10

Ri Members £7

Event description

How high can we build? What are the new technologies that might see our skyscrapers go beyond anything we ever imagined? What creativity and drive is needed to push engineering forward? 

In this talk, Roma Agrawal delves into the history of the materials that enabled immense construction, particularly concrete and steel, and the developments that made our structures what they are today. All while noting the accomplishments of key visionary engineers - Henry Bessemer, Fazlur Khan and Elisha Otis.

About the speaker

Roma Agrawal MBE is a structural engineer, and author, who builds big. From footbridges and sculptures, to train stations and skyscrapers – including The Shard – her work has left an indelible mark on London’s landscape.

She is a tireless promoter of engineering and technical careers to young people, particularly under-represented groups such as women. She has advised policymakers and governments on science education, and has given talks to thousands around the world at universities, schools and organisations, including two for TEDx. She is a television presenter, and writes articles about engineering, education and leadership.

Roma has been awarded international awards for her technical prowess and success in promoting the profession, including the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering’s Rooke Award. Her first book, BUILT: The Hidden Stories behind our Structures, was published by Bloomsbury to glowing reviews in February last year. Listen to her new podcast pilot 'Building Stories' for more!

Roma previously spoke at the Ri for Ada Lovelace Day Live in 2014. You can watch the clip on the Ri's YouTube channel here. 


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Following the talk, a private drinks reception for Ri Patrons will start at 8.30pm. 

Latecomers will be admitted into the gallery.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

More about Ri Patrons present

'Ri Patrons present' events explore the intersection of science, culture, innovation and society with leading thinkers and decision makers. These events are supported by Ri Patrons, a group of philanthropically motivated individuals that help to ensure that people of all backgrounds can build a lifelong interaction with science.

After this event, there will be a private drinks reception for patrons. 


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email: events@ri.ac.uk.

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing events@ri.ac.uk.

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 


Watch Roma speak at the Ri for Ada Lovelace Day Live in 2014 here: 

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