As we work in the structural engineering sector, we have decided to put together a series called “Structural Engineering Greats”. The series will look at the many impressive individuals who have made a significant impact on structural engineers, delve into their history and simply learn more about their journeys.
In this blog, we take a look at Fazlur Khan, a man who was referred to as “the Einstein of structural engineering”.
Who is Fazlur Khan?
In 1950, Khan obtained a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Dacca. Later, he worked as an assistant engineer for the Indian Highway Department and also taught at the same university he studied at.
Khan Moved to America to Further His Education
In 1952, he qualified for a scholarship at the University of Illinois, so he enrolled and soon received master degrees in both applied mechanics and structural engineering, along with a PhD in structural engineering.
Khan Started Working for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in Chicago
Shortly after obtaining his qualifications, he was hired by the respected architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, based in Chicago. He made himself stand out from the crowd with his innovative designs, including the new strategy for high-rise buildings, formally known as the tube concept.
What was Fazlur Khan’s Tube Concept?
Khan was famous for his tube concept for skyscrapers. The design consisted of using the perimeter wall of a building to mimic a thin tube as opposed to designing buildings around a central core.
The Tube Concept Was Cost-Effective and Environmentally Friendly
The innovative concept allowed for taller buildings to be constructed while also being able to withstand forces such as high wind and earthquakes. The method also significantly reduced the cost of construction and had a positive effect on the environmental impact as it required far fewer materials.
Khan’s tube concept transformed the architectural industry, and soon, many super-high skyscrapers were being constructed around the world!
What Buildings is Fazlur Khan Known For?
Khan is most well-known for his involvement in supertall skyscraper architecture. Some of the famous buildings include:
Height: 110-story building
Date of Construction Completion: 1973
The History of the Willis Tower
Willis Tower was designed by the architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and was one of Khan’s first projects he worked on. The construction process took three years and 2,000 construction workers. The building features a steel-framed tube method and was completed in 1973. It was the world’s tallest tower until 1998!
The Willis Tower Today
Today, the tower is owned by a company called Blackstone and is managed by EQ Office. More than 100 businesses are based in the Willis Tower, including finance, transportation, insurance and law companies. Radio and TV stations are also broadcasted from the Willis Tower’s rooftop!
Around 15,000 people work at the building and regularly visit daily. Thousands of people also visit the Willis Tower for its Skydeck; a popular tourist attraction that boasts incredible panoramic views of Chicago.
John Hancock Center
Height: 100-story building
Date of Construction Completion: 1970
The History of the John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center is a 100-story skyscraper in Chicago that was also designed by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Khan was the structural engineer on the project. The building was completed in 1970 and features a tapered rectangular tube design.
The John Hancock Center Today
Today, the John Hancock Center is a combination of a parking garage, residential apartments, retail, offices, and observatory facilities on the 94th, 95th, and 96th floors.
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