Structural Giant

FRKhan.jpgThere is no such thing as “Structural Engineer’s Day” but if there were, you can be sure that, on the day, they would celebrate the genius of Fazlur R Khan.

I remember working as a graduate structural engineer in Chicago in the 90s and feeling more than a little proud to know that the two most brillaint buildings in a city chocker block full of brilliant buildings were designed by a Bangladeshi: The resplendent Sears Tower and the cruelly beautiful John Hancock Center. (The architect for both was the great Bruce Graham).

In a new book Art of the Skyscraper: The Genius of Fazlur Rahman Khan, Mir Ali excavates the story behind F R Khan, the man who revolutionised construction of tall buildings by inventing the “framed tube,” “braced tube” and “bundled tube” structural systems, which made it possible to construct the 100-story John Hancock Centre and the 110-story Sears Tower.

One of Khan’s innovations was to protect skyscrapers from shocks caused to lower levels- earthquakes were what he planned for, suicide attacks on upper levels were beyond the scope of imagining (even though the Tower was so tall that the FAA had to give special clearance that airlines would not fly into it).

93 Responses to “Structural Giant”

  1. sonia Says:

    ah. interesting spotlight.

    though of course i’m no fan of the fallout from the great modernist project.

  2. joe Says:

    I’d never heard of this guy. Cheers for drawing this attention to him.

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