Who was Fazlur Rahman Khan? Skyscraper engineer who designed Sears Tower celebrated with Google Doodle
The architect revolutionised how skyscrapers are designed and his techniques are still used today.
THE GENIUS engineer behind the Sears Tower and Chicago’s John Hancock Centre has been celebrated with a Google Doodle.
Who was Fazlur Rahman Khan?
The structural engineer was born in 1929 in Dhaka where he lived with his high school maths teacher dad.
Khan studied Civil Engineering in Bengal Engineering College Shibpur in India before he received his Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from Ahsanullah Engineering College, University of Dhaka.
He was given a scholarship that allowed him to the travel to the US in 1952 where he started two master’s degrees – one in structural engineering and one in theoretical and applied mechanics.
Khan later received a PhD in structural engineering.
But he never forgot where he came from and he took a major role in fundraising for the Bengali people during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
The war began in March 1971 and ended in December 1971 and created a humanitarian crisis, including the Bangladesh genocide.
It’s estimated that as many as 3 million civilians died during the war.
Khan died of a heart attack on March 27, 1982 while on a trip in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, at the age of 52. His body was returned to the United States and was buried in Chicago.
Where did Fazlur Rahman Khan work?
In 1955, Khan was hired by prestigious architecture firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which brought him to Chicago.
The firm designs buildings in Beijing, South Korea, Sweden, LA, New York and Dubai.
Khan’s first complete building was the Chestnut-DeWitt building in 1964.
The design put Khan’s renowed “framed tube” idea to the test.
What is the ‘tube’ structure in buildings?
Khan was known for his use of the “tube” structure on tall buildings.
His celebrated idea was to support a building’s outside, rather than concrete and steel on the inside.
He used the technique on the John Hancock Centre in 1965 – a 100-storey tower in Chicago.
The tube structure revolutionised tall building design and is still used in most buildings more than 40 storeys high.
When did Khan build the Sears Tower?
Alongside architect Bruce Graham, Khan designed the Sears Tower in Chicago – also known as the Willis Tower – which was completed in 1973.
The building, which used Khan’s “bundled tube” structure, was the tallest building in the world until 1998.
The building’s architecture stands 1,450 feet tall, but if you include the antennae, it stands at 1,729 feet tall.
The tube structure – nine tubes of different heights – gave the Sears Tower its appearance and makes it one of the most recognisable skyscrapers in the world.
It is still used in huge buildings today – the tallest structure in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, used the technique and is 2,772 feet tall.
Khan is immortalised at the Sears Tower with a sculpture commissioned by the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois (SEAOI) in 1988.
It was designed by Spanish artist Carlos Marinas and is on display in the Willis Tower lobby, near the elevators where visitors buy tickets to the skydeck.
Why does Fazlur Rahman Khan have a Google Doodle?
The pioneering architect changed the way skyscrapers are designed thanks to his tube structure.
He is being celebrated On April 3 as it would have been his 88th birthday.
His daughter Yasmin told Google: “His pioneering work in skyscraper design was rejuvenating the design profession as he developed new ways of framing tall buildings, dramatically improving structural efficiency and economy.
“In 1965 he had initiated the “trussed tube” structural system with his design for Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center.
“By 1971 he was designing the world’s tallest building, the Sears Tower, using his latest innovation, the “bundled tube”.
“His innovations subsequently formed the basis of tall building design.”
Other buildings Khan designed include the US Bank Center in Milwaukee, One Shell Square in New Orleans, 140 William Street in Melbourne, Australia and the Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.