Fazlur Rahman Khan was a Bangladeshi-American structural engineer and architect, who initiated important structural systems for skyscrapers. Considered the “father of tubular designs” for high-rises, Khan was also a pioneer in computer-aided design (CAD). He was the structural designer of the Sears Tower, since renamed Willis Tower, the tallest building in the world from 1973 until 1998, and the 100-story John Hancock Center.
Khan, more than any other individual, ushered in a renaissance in skyscraper construction during the second half of the 20th century. He has been called the “Einstein of structural engineering” and the “Greatest Structural Engineer of the 20th Century” for his innovative use of structural systems that remain fundamental to modern skyscraper design and construction. In his honor, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat established the Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal, as one of their CTBUH Skyscraper Awards.
Although best known for skyscrapers, Khan was also an active designer of other kinds of structures, including the Hajj airport terminal, the McMath–Pierce solar telescope, and several stadium structures. I personally have been to the top of both the Sears Tower, and the John Hancock Center. But most famously the observation deck of the Sears tower is featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. As today (April 3) would have been his birthday, and he is the Google Doodle, I think it only fitting to bestow the honor of Geek of the Week to Fazlur Rahman Khan.