The Interstate 35W bridge was designed in the 1960s by Sverdrup & Parcel, a firm founded by two men with Minnesota ties. John Parcel was head of the Structural Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota, and his former student Leif Sverdrup was a Norwegian immigrant who earned bachelor's degrees from both the U and Augsburg College. They formed a partnership in 1928 in Missouri, and their firm went on to design such notable projects as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the old Busch Stadium in St. Louis and the Superdome in New Orleans. The firm also designed the Hastings Bridge and the Fort Road/Hwy. 5 bridge over the Mississippi River near Fort Snelling. Parcel died in 1965; Sverdrup died in 1976. In 1999, the company merged into Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena, Calif. Shortly after the collapse of the I-35W bridge, Jacobs said the firm was "prepared to provide any assistance that MnDOT or other authorities involved in the investigation of this tragic incident may require." The company did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment. Since 1976, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given out an annual award named after Parcel and Sverdrup to a member "who has made a definite contribution in the field of civil engineering management, evidencing high character and professional integrity and regional or national professional reputation."

JIM FOTI