Frank Rowley was born in the north of England and, as a boy, moved with his family to Scotland. While at Paisley Grammar School as a teenager, at weekends he accompanied his father around the shipyards of Glasgow, where he learned practical skills that were to serve him well throughout his career. After leaving school in 1958, he joined Renfrew County Council as an apprentice civil engineer. A diligent pupil, he attended night school while working on site and in the design office, gaining a wide variety of engineering expertise that he would draw on over the coming years.

Upon completion of his apprenticeship in 1963, he joined Livingston Development Corporation as a design engineer with widening responsibilities and rose to senior civil engineer. While there, his design for the Almond bridge was of advanced concept and was awarded the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA) Design Award in 1972. Frank treasured this award for the rest of his career.

He joined Edinburgh Wanderers rugby team and played in the backs for many seasons. Rugby meant much to Frank, and when he stopped playing he took up refereeing and regularly refereed two games a week until he was well over 50.

Still in his thirties, Frank and his wife Sheila and their young son Steven moved south as the motorway programme gained momentum in England. In 1971 and 1972 he worked for the South Eastern Road Construction Unit as senior bridge engineer on the series of more than 60 bridges on the M3 motorway between Basingstoke and the M25. Here, his interest in law and contract was raised and he gained a reputation for being ''firm but fair'' with the contractors building the motorway.

On completion of the project, the family stayed in Surrey and for a time he worked for Leonard and Partners on a series of projects associated with the Thames Barrier.

However, in 1975, he took the position of chief engineer with a newly formed design practice, Tony Gee and Partners. It was here that his engineering genius blossomed and a string of designs for British and international projects followed. Drawing on his formative years in Glasgow, he developed equipment and methods for the economic and safe construction of bridges, his scheme for construction of the Trent bridge was an engineering first in the UK and winner of another BCSA award. His skills were not confined to bridges. He designed the scheme for the construction of the deep vaults of the HSBC HQ in Hong Kong in the early 1980s, the 47-storey skyscraper being the tallest building in the business district at that time.

In the mid-eighties, as the practice matured, Frank led design teams for the Gade Valley viaduct on the M25 and the Dornoch Firth bridge on the A9. This 20-span crossing of the firth won the Saltire Award for ''advancing the art of civil engineering in Scotland'' and was ''highly commended'' in the 1992 British Construction Industry awards.

More significant designs were to follow, with the Ceiriog viaduct on the A5 in Wales winning more national awards. His belief in the

purity of engineering solutions and their simplicity of concept and execution earned him high respect within the engineering profession and in 1988 he became chairman of the firm. Invited to review the concept for platforms and departure lounges for the new Eurostar International Terminus at Waterloo, he conceived a winning design and more national and civic awards flowed in tribute to the team.

Between 1994 and 1996 he led the design team from concept to completion on the A38 Marsh Mills replacement viaducts in Devon. The old viaducts were crumbling and Frank's design for the sliding of the two replacement viaducts, (each weighing more than 5000 tonnes and more than 400 metres long) over two weekends, was breathtaking.

The event was covered by BBC television and radio and the execution was so successful, with the disruption to the public so minimal, that the director of the AA invited Frank to its annual dinner

in 1996 to receive the AA

national motoring award for roads and traffic management. It was further recognised in the BCSA awards that year with a special commendation for engineering ingenuity.

Under Frank's leadership, the firm grew and prospered, and he found himself invited on to professional and technical committees, where his judgment, wisdom, and professionalism were sought and valued. In Glasgow, his expertise was called for during the recent refurbishment works to stabilise the Kingston bridge. The new century was to see Frank's involvement in the Falkirk Wheel as part of the Millennium Link's reopening of the canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow. This unique structure for raising vessels 25 metres between two sections of the canal was conceived as part of the nation's millennium celebrations and opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in her Golden Jubilee year. The wheel won a Saltire Award for ''advancing the art of civil engineering in Scotland'' and won The Structural Steel Design Awards 2002 engineering award.

The Institution of Civil Engineers, of which he was a fellow since 1980, recognised the significance of the structure by awarding it The Brunel Medal last autumn. Frank was invited to the presentation ceremony for his involvement in the development of the concept and leadership of the steelwork design team. It was a fitting recognition of one of the industries finest engineers.

He is survived by his wife, Sheila, and their son Steven.

Frank Rowley, civil engineer; born May 4, 1940, died March 17, 2003.