Thorsten Helbig

Associate Professor Adjunct

Thorsten Helbig is founding partner of Knippers Helbig (KH), an award winning structural and façade engineering firm based in Stuttgart, New York and Berlin, established in 2001. At KH, Helbig established an open-minded approach towards engineering design and developed new forms of collaborations with clients, architects and industry partners.  KH works with an extensive range of materials and explores the inherent potential of new fabrication technologies: from robotically fabricated canopies made of woven carbon fiber reinforced polymers, textile-reinforced concrete structures, fiber reinforced ceramics to buildings utilizing mass timber strategies. Helbig’s engineering approach strives to interweave conceptual design with the professional experience of executing technically complex projects with a focus on the application of progressive materials and state-of-the-art design and construction technologies. 

Thorsten gained vast experience as an engineering partner for renowned architects such as Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Gehry Partners, Stefan Behnisch, and Grimshaw among others. As Partner-in-charge, Helbig has led numerous award winning projects in competition and execution such as T3 Bao’an Int’l Airport, Shenzhen, China with M. Fuksas, one of the first large scale projects using parametric design tools for geometrical and structural optimization. Currently he is the key designer of a series of what will be the first of its’ kind: Robust, Integral Timber Footbridges, which received the notable German award for Timber Constructions in 2017 for the concept which was developed in a research project.  His projects were awarded the German Steel Construction Award, Material prize, Civil engineering Award (Recognition, 2018), Mies van der Rohe Award among others.

Helbig, experienced and educated as a builder, spent several years working on construction sites.  He studied civil engineering and architecture at the UAS Bielefeld, Germany, receiving his Degree in civil engineering in 1994. Prior to founding Knippers Helbig in 2001, Thorsten was a structural engineer and project manager at SBP Stuttgart, founded and led by Jörg Schlaich and Rudolf Bergermann.

Thorsten Helbig lectures regularly at conferences and seminars across Europe and the US and is the author of numerous publications. He has been published in a wide range of international architecture and engineering books and journals. He is a member of the Chamber of Engineers in Germany, the International Association of Bridge and Shell Structures (IABSE) and the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures.
Helbig has participated in and critiqued for several design studios, including University of Pennsylvania and University of California, Los Angeles. He has lectured at educational institutions in Europe and the US such as Harvard Graduate School of Design, TU Delft and TU Vienna among others.



Related Cooper Events & Exhibitions

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.