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Fazlur Rahman Khan: Full Story & Must-See Details

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

If you’ve been on Google today (April 3, 2017), you’ve likely noticed the interesting new doodle.

If you’re wondering what the illustration represents, you’ve come to the right place. Please say hello to Falzur Rahman Khan, who would be celebrating his 88th birthday today. Khan is best known for designing Chicago’s Sears Tower, known today as the Willis Tower, and for his humanitarian spirit.

Here’s the full story about Khan.

What Happened

Khan was considered the “Einstein of structural engineering” and an innovator in his field. One of his most significant contributions to architectural design of tall buildings was his “tube” design system. Mental Floss expands on this idea, but essentially, Khan designed buildings to be supported by its face, as opposed to the concrete and steel inside.

Khan designed the John Hancock Center in 1965 using a “trussed tube” structural system that differed from the standard practice at the time. The design gave the 100-story building its iconic X-brace along the exterior.

Khan also helped popularize the “framed tube and the tube-in-tube, the trussed tube, the bundled tube, the composite system” and other structural design practices.

The Chestnut-DeWitt buildings holds the honor of being Khan’s first completed building, opening its doors in 1964. Other buildings on Khan’s resume include: the U.S. 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, Saui Arabia.

However, the architect’s true claim to fame is the Sears Tower, completed in 1973 and owning the title of tallest building in the world until 1998. In 2009, the building became known as the Willis Tower. It stands 1,450 feet tall, but if you include the antennae, it reaches 1,729 feet tall. Khan used his famous “bundled tube” design for the Willis Tower. This means that the building has several connected tube frames, giving it a unique design and an economical building cost.

Khan’s tube designs are still commonly used today.

Who Is Falzur Rahman Khan

Khan was born in Dhaka, what is now in Bangladesh, on April 3, 1929. He dies on March 27, 1982 at age 52 of a heart attack.

Yasmin Sabina Khan, his daughter and author of Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khantold Google the following:

A humanitarian in his personal as well as professional life, he was inspired by the belief that his work had a positive impact and he encouraged other engineers not to lose track of the purpose of their profession. When he was named Construction’s Man of the Year, he reflected, ‘The technical man must not be lost in his own technology. He must be able to appreciate life, and life is art, drama, music, and, most importantly, people.’

Khan arrived in the U.S. in 1952 after extensive studies at the Bengal Engineering College Shibpur in India and at the Ahsanullah Engineering College, University of Dhaka, which is now the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. Within three years of his American arrival, he had two master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a PhD in structural engineering.

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COED Writer
A New York native & proud couch potato who loves all things pop culture. I can usually be found writing, making videos and ranking all the warriors in "Game of Thrones" based on their fighting prowess.