LONDON: Stephen Bechtel Jr., the third-generation heir of the Bechtel construction empire who helped to build Jubail Industrial City, has died aged 95.
Bechtel ran one of the biggest names in US construction for 30 years from 1960, during which time he worked on the creation of Jubail Industrial City, described by the company as one of the biggest civil engineering projects of modern times and a key milestone in the Kingdom’s industrial evolution.
The firm’s sales grew 11-fold, its employee population five-fold, and major projects from 18 to 119 during his tenure, Bechtel said.
He died peacefully at home on Monday.
“My grandfather leaves a remarkable legacy of accomplishment, integrity, excellence, and commitment to customers and communities,” said Brendan Bechtel, the current chairman and chief executive.
The Stanford-educated billionaire worked his way up from a field engineer to become CEO of the company aged 35.
While Bechtel inherited a company that already had an established reputation for delivering massive projects such as the Hoover Dam and the San Francisco Bay Bridge caisson, he extended its operations worldwide.
Jubail was one of Bechtel's best known mega projects. The company was chosen by the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu in the mid-1970s to help plan and deliver the project — transforming what was an old fishing and pearling village to a massive industrial complex that would help the Kingdom and the then fledgling Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) become a global petrochemicals power.
In 2006, Bechtel was invited to manage a further expansion of the city’s industrial and living areas, building residential accommodation for 120,000 people and an 18,000-student ‘greenfield’ university.
His company also worked on the construction of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.