Saturday, 22 January 2011

Dr.F R Khan -Einstein of Structural Engineering

Legendary architect Dr. F R Khan
Fazlur Rahman Khan born-April 3, 1929 in Dhaka,Bangladesh was a Bangladeshi -American architect and structural engineer . He is a central figure behind the ''Second Chicago School'' of architecture,and is regarded as the "father of tubular design for high-rises''.Khan, "more than any other individual, ushered in a renaissance in skyscraper construction during the second half of the twentieth century."He is also considered to be the''Einstein of structural engineering'' and "the greatest structural engineer of the second half of the 20th century" for his innovative use of structural systems that remain fundamental to modern skyscraper construction. His most famous buildings are the John Hancock Center and the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), which was the world's tallest building for several decades.(the world’s tallest building from its completion in 1974 until 1996).
Fazlur Rahman Khan is from the village of Bhandarikandi in Shibchar Upazila,Madaripur District,Dhaka Division,Bangladesh. He was born on 3 April 1929, in Dhaka and died 27 March 1982 in Jeddah,Saudia Arabia at the age of only 52 year old. His father, Khan Bahadur Abdur Rahman Khan, BES was ADPI of Bengal and after retirement served as Principal of Jagannath College, Dhaka.
After completing undergraduate coursework at the Bengal Engineering College, University of Calcutta, Fazlur R. Khan received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Dacca in 1951 while placing first in his class. A Fulbright Scholarship and a Pakistani Government Scholarship subsequently enabled him to travel to the United States in 1952 where he pursued advanced studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana. In three short years Khan earned two masters’ degrees — one in structural engineering and one in theoretical and applied mechanics — and a PhD in structural engineering.
In 1973 he was honored with the top accolade for an engineer in the United States, election to the National Academy of Engineering.
He was cited five times among "Men Who Served the Best Interests of the Construction Industry" by Engineering News-Record (for 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971, and 1979); and in 1972 he was named "Construction's Man of the Year." He was posthumously honored with the International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering and a Distinguished Service Award from the AIA Chicago Chapter (both in 1982). In 1983 the American Institute of Architects recognized Fazlur Khan's contributions with an AIA Institute Honor for Distinguished Achievement.

That same year he was honored with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture "for the Structure of the Hajj Terminal, An Outstanding Contribution to Architecture for Muslims," which was completed over the last years of his life.
The Structural Engineers Association of Illinois recognized his achievements with the John Parmer Award in 1987. The SEAOI also commissioned a sculpture in Fazlur Khan’s honor by the Spanish artist Carlos Marinas. The sculpture is located in the lobby of the Sears Tower.In 1998 the city of  Chicago named the intersection of Jackson and Franklin Streets (located at the foot of the Sears Tower) "Fazlur R. Khan Way."
Dr. Fazlur Khan realized that the rigid steel frame structure that had "dominated tall building design and construction so long was not the only system fitting for tall buildings", marking "the beginning of a new era of skyscraper revolution in terms of multiple structural systems. Dr. F R Khan's design innovations significantly improved the construction of high-rise buildings, enabling them to withstand enormous forces generated on these super structures. These new designs opened an economic door for contractors, engineers, architects, and investors, providing vast amounts of real estate space on minimal plots of land.
Dr.Khan with his daughter Yasmin in 1970's
Khan invented a new way of building tall. So F R Khan created the unconventional skyscraper. Reversing the logic of the steel frame, he decided that the building's external envelope could – given enough trussing, framing and bracing – be the structure itself. This made buildings even lighter. The "bundled tube" meant buildings no longer need be boxlike in appearance: they could become sculpture. Khan's amazing insight – he was name-checked by Obama in his Cairo University speech last year – changed both the economics and the morphology of supertall buildings. And it made Burj Khalifa possible: proportionately, Burj employs perhaps half the steel that conservatively supports the Empire State Building. Burj Khalifa is the ultimate expression of his audacious, lightweight design philosophy.
The first sky lobby was also designed by Khan for the John Hancock Center. Later buildings with sky lobbies include the World Trade Center,Petronas Twin Towers and Taipei 101. The 44th-floor sky lobby of the John Hancock Center also features the first high-rise indoorswimming pool, which remains the highest in America.This was the first time that people could have the opportunity to work and live 'in the sky'.

File:Sears Tower and 311 South Wacker.jpg
Sears Tower Building

A Bangladesh Postal Stamp
Even though Dr.F R Khan became an American citizen and spent almost his entire career in the US, he remained a 'Bangali' at heart all his life. Outside of work, Khan enjoyed spending time with his family (wife Liselotte and daughter Yasmin). He enjoyed singing, poetry, and table tennis. He was also heavily involved with creating public opinion and garnering emergency funding for Bengali people during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. He created the Chicago-based organization known as Bangladesh Emergency Welfare Appeal.He also organized a strong lobby in Washington for months to urge the US authority to stop shipment of arms to the junta.

See also this video clip link - in memory on Dr. F R Khan .;


  1. Thank you for this lovely, detailed description of my father and his work. I appreciate you citing my web site for my father as one source. However my site is no longer at Instead, the new domain name is
    Is it possible to update your reference to the web site about my father? Thank you, Yasmin Sabina Khan

    1. What a great surprise.I really feel proud that you have visited my blog. I have changed the refering website name. Greetings from me and on behalf of all the Bangladeshi people to you.