Published on 16 January 2008


(1933 - 1978)

In 1954, while still a student at the École des Ponts et Chaussées, Louis Ménard designed a device for measuring soil properties which he called a Pressuremeter. Some time later, aged 23, he registered a patent and obtained a grant from the Association of former students of the School in order to build a prototype.
While studying at the University of Illinois, Ménard wrote a thesis on the Pressuremeter and built a fully operational device.
In 1957, he set up his company: "Les pressiomètres Louis Ménard SA".
In 1960, the pressuremeter had already been adopted in Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Canada.
In 1962, he created a bilingual journal (Sols-Soils) and split the company into two: "Les techniques Louis Ménard" and "Les études pressiométriques Louis Ménard".
He conducted a large number of trials, in particular to investigate the bearing capacity of piles, and, for use in Germany, invented a type of expanded pile to improve the tensile strnegth of pylon foundations.
He also improved the use of the Pressurementer and registered patents for new drilling and measurement devices.
During the early 1970s, Ménard was directly involved in construction works. When building a "Marina" at La Napoule he decided to compact a fill by tamping with an 8 tonne weight dropped from a height of 10 metres. He introduced this technique world-wide and designed a crane, which he soon replaced with a tripod, to drop a 40 tonne weight from a height of 40 metres.


In 1976 he used a giant machine able to lift 170 tonnes to a height of 25 metres at Nice Airport, which he extended on land reclaimed from the sea.

One of his last inventions, in 1977, was intended to increase the bearing capacilty of tubular steel piles.

He died in 1978 after a long illness.

The procedures and techniques developed by Louis Ménard for foundations are now used all over the world.