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Google Doodle Honors Pioneering Willis Tower & Hancock Center Designer Fazlur Rahman Khan

By Rachel Cromidas in News on Apr 3, 2017 2:22PM

Today's Google Doodle pays tribute to architect and designer Fazlur Rahman Khan, on the occasion of his birthday. Khan, a Bangladeshi-American who came to Chicago in 1955 to work for the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, designed the Willis Tower (then the Sears Tower, of course) and the John Hancock Center.


Khan has been called the "Einstein of structural engineering," and with good reason; he revolutionized skyscraper design and built two of the tallest buildings in Chicago using a concept he invented called the "tube structural system" which calls for skyscraper exteriors to be designed like tubes.

We know other buildings around the world have long since surpassed the Willis Tower and Hancock Center in height, you don't have to remind us, but at the time they were built, they were quite innovative. The 100-story Hancock Center demonstrated the efficacy of Khan's "trussed tube" design system, and at the time it was built in 1966 it was the second-tallest building in the world, after the Empire State Building. Then in 1974, Khan completed work on the 110-story Willis Tower using a "bundled tube" system, making it the world's tallest building from 1974 to 1996.

Khan is also known for designing Milwaukee's U.S. Bank Center and the Hajj Terminal in Saudi Arabia, among many other projects around the world. Khan died in Saudi Arabia in 1982, but he is buried in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation wished him a happy birthday on Twitter earlier this morning: