Date of birthApril 3, 1929 (age 90)
Place of birthDhaka, Bangladesh
EducationBengal Engineering College, Shibpur, Bangladesh University of Engineering and TechnologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
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Structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan (1929 — 1982) ushered in a renaissance in skyscraper construction during the second half of the 20th century. He was a pragmatic visionary, establishing structural systems that subsequently formed the basis of high-rise design: the framed tube and the tube-in-tube, the trussed tube, the bundled tube, the composite system utilizing both concrete and structural steel. The series of progressive ideas that Fazlur Khan developed for efficient high-rise construction in the 1960s and 1970s was validated in his own work. His design for Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center established the trussed tube system, his design for the 110-story Sears Tower (the world’s tallest building from its completion in 1974 until 1996; the building is now called the Willis Tower) initiated the bundled tube system. Fazlur Khan epitomized both structural engineering achievement and creative collaborative effort between architect and engineer. Only when architectural design is grounded in structural realities, he believed — thus celebrating architecture’s nature as a constructive art, rooted in the earth — can “the resulting aesthetics . . . have a transcendental value and quality.” He was always clear about the purpose and responsibility of architecture. Khan’s characteristic statement to an editor in 1971, having just been selected Construction’s Man of the Year by Engineering News-Record, is commemorated in a plaque in Onterie Center (446 E. Ontario, Chicago):
Buildings on which Khan was structural engineer include: DeWitt-Chestnut Apartments, Chicago, 1963 Brunswick Building, Chicago, 1965 John Hancock Center, Chicago, 1965–1969 One Shell Square, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1972 140 William Street (formerly BHP House), Melbourne, 1972 Sears Tower, renamed Willis Tower, Chicago, 1970–1973 First Wisconsin Center, renamed U.S. Bank Center, Milwaukee, 1973 Hajj Terminal, King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, 1974–1980 King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, 1977–1978 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1982 One Magnificent Mile, Chicago, completed 1983 Onterie Center, Chicago, completed 1986 United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado ince 1963, the new structural system of framed tubes became highly influential in skyscraper design and construction. Khan defined the framed tube structure as "a three dimensional space structure composed of three, four, or possibly more frames, braced frames, or shear walls, joined at or near their edges to form a vertical tube-like structural system capable of resisting lateral forces in any direction by cantilevering from the foundation." Closely spaced interconnected exterior columns form the tube. Horizontal loads, for example from wind and earthquakes, are supported by the structure as a whole. About half the exterior surface is available for windows. Framed tubes allow fewer interior columns, and so create more usable floor space. The bundled tube structure is more efficient for tall buildings, lessening the penalty for height. The structural system also allows the interior columns to be smaller and the core of the building to be free of braced frames or shear walls that use valuable floor space. Where larger openings like garage doors are required, the tube frame must be interrupted, with transfer girders used to maintain structural integrity. The first building to apply the tube-frame construction was the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartment Building, since renamed Plaza on DeWitt, building that Khan designed and was completed in Chicago in 1963. This laid the foundations for the framed tube structure used in the construction of the World Trade Center.
Wason Medal (1971) Alfred Lindau Award (1973) from the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Thomas Middlebrooks Award (1972) Ernest Howard Award (1977) from ASCE Kimbrough Medal (1973) from the American Institute of Steel Construction Oscar Faber medal (1973) from the Institution of Structural Engineers, London International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering (1983) from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering IABSE AIA Institute Honor for Distinguished Achievement (1983) from the American Institute of Architects John Parmer Award (1987) from Structural Engineers Association of Illinois and Illinois Engineering Hall of Fame from Illinois Engineering Council (2006)
Spouse Liselotte Khan Daughter Yasmin Sabina Khan
“The technical man must not be lost in his own technology. He must be able to appreciate life and life is art, drama, music, and most importantly, people.”