Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan: The Man Behind Every Modern Skyscraper Engineers

Google remembered the distinguished engineer, on the day he would have turned 88, for his innovative work in the design of skyscrapers that ...

Google remembered the distinguished engineer, on the day he would have turned 88, for his innovative work in the design of skyscrapers that earned him the appointment of Man of the Year of Construction in 1971.

Fazlur Rahman Khan was born on 3 April 1929 in Dhaka, in the province of Bengal of British India (Dhaka became part of Pakistan in 1947 and since 1971 in Bangladesh). Although he died young, at age 52, he left a great legacy in the construction industry, in which he is considered "the Einstein of structural engineering," since all modern skyscrapers employ their innovative techniques of building high structures with Tubular technology.

From very young Fazlur Rahman Khan opted for engineering and technical. He studied at the University of Bangladesh in Engineering and Technology and in 1952 moved to the United States thanks to the Fulbright Scholarship of the Government. There, Khan achieved three grades in just three years at the University of Illinois: two masters in applied mechanics and structural engineering and a Ph.D. in structural engineering.

Google honors the Asian engineer on the day he would have turned 88 with a Doodle that recalls his inventions in building skyscrapers and which highlights his most famous work, the Sears Tower (now Tower Willis) in Chicago.

His concept of engineering in buildings over 40 floors revolutionized the construction of skyscrapers, to the point that most of these architectural monsters built from 1960 use a design derived from Khan's structural engineering principles.

"Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan: The Man Behind Every Modern Skyscraper Engineers"

In 1955, Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan began work in Chicago at SOM (Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill). There, along with architect Graham, he was in charge of designing another of Chicago's famous skyscrapers, the 108-story John Hancock Center, completed in 1968. Hancock was Chicago's tallest building at the time. The steel structure with its diagonal contravention, visible in the facade, make it work as a tube. It was the first time that kind of structure was tried on that scale and Khan made it efficient and economical.

The distinguished engineer discovered that the rigid steel structure that had dominated the design of tall buildings and the overall construction for so long was not the only adjustment system for this type of buildings, which meant the beginning of a new era of the building of skyscrapers.

The central innovation of Fazlur Rahman Khan in the design and construction of skyscrapers was the idea of the "tube" structural system for these buildings, including the possibilities of "framed tube," "tube tied," "bundled tube." Its concept of "machine," using the whole structure of the exterior perimeter wall of a building to simulate a thin wall tube, was not only novel but revolutionary for its advantages and possibilities.

For the Sears Tower Khan proposed a structure that functions as a group of free tubes that reinforce each other. The floor is a square divided into nine squares and the towers that form the building have different heights, which gives the skyscraper its structural strength and its classic profile. This novelty reduced the amount of steel and also the final cost of the building considerably.

But Fazlur Rahman Khan, who in 1971 was awarded the Man of the Year stock exchange. Also designed other prominent non-skyscraper structures, such as the Hajj terminal at Rey Abdulaziz International Airport, completed in 1981; King Abdulaziz University; The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

He died of a heart attack on 27 March 1982 in Saudi Arabia, but his vision of the new skyscraper architecture continues to prevail in the new constructions. Since 1998  Fazlur Rahman Khan has in Chicago, the city of the skyscrapers that he devised, a street with its name.

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