Lecture series at Lehigh

March 22, 2016

I am so pleased that John Zils will be the Fazlur Rahman Khan Distinguished Lecture Series speaker next month. He worked closely with my father at SOM and was a tremendous support for me when I was working on Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan.

Graceland Cemetery

May 28, 2015

A couple of people have asked me recently whether it is all right for admirers of my father to visit his grave. Yes, certainly – I am glad friends and admirers visit. The cemetery also welcomes visitors. I only ask that, if you want to take flowers, please take cut flowers. The cemetery does not allow visitors to dig or plant in the ground.

A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery

A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, guide to Graceland Cemetery by Barbara Lanctot, published by the Chicago Architecture Foundation (2011)

The Chicago Architecture Foundation publishes a nice guide to Graceland Cemetery. The book includes a map of the garden-style cemetery and descriptions of selected gravesites. A number of architects and engineers are buried at Graceland, including William Le Baron Jenney, Louis Sullivan, Daniel Burnham, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Bruce Graham’s memorial stone is next to my father’s gravesite.

This is the description for my father.

Fazlur Khan, in A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, A Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour

A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, A Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour

Fazlur Khan, in A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, A Chicago Architecture Foundation Tour (on pages 50 & 51)

The entrance to Graceland Cemetery is located at 4001 N. Clark Street. There is an office just inside the entrance where you can ask for directions (call about hours, the phone number is (773) 525-1105). Also, if you’re interested in the Chicago Architecture Foundation guide, the office has the book for sale.

March 11, 2014

I could not help feeling a tinge of disappointment on hearing that the Sears (now Willis) Tower has lost its title as tallest building in North America to One World Trade Center in New York. But I was pleased that the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat executive director, in announcing the height of One World Trade Center, recalled the building designers’ early vision of a spire and beacon honoring the Statue of Liberty. The spire of One World Trade Center “which holds the beacon light,” he said, “shining out at the symbolic height of 1,776 feet, is especially poignant – echoing the similarly symbolic beacon atop the Statue of Liberty across the water.” In fact, in early drawings of 1WTC the designers showed the spire rising at one side of the tower (rather than centered on the roof).

One World Trade Center (1WTC) in New York, originally known as the Freedom Tower, has become “The Top of America,” as this week’s issue of Time magazine puts it. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the organization that determines how a building’s height is measured, 1WTC’s height to architectural top is 1,776 feet. This includes the 408-foot-tall spire that rises above the main structure of the building. In announcing the CTBUH decision to include the spire in its measurement, the organization’s executive director noted the symbolic importance of the spire reaching to 1,776 feet and the Height Committee’s confidence that the spire will remain a permanent architectural feature of the building.

So, the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago has lost its title as the tallest building in North America (it was the World’s Tallest Building from its completion in 1974 to 1996, when it lost that title to the Petronas Towers). The main roof level at the top of the building structure is actually higher at the Willis Tower in Chicago than at 1WTC: 1,451 feet at the Willis Tower vs. 1,368 feet to the steel parapet at 1WTC. But since the late 1990s the CTBUH has evaluated buildings according to several measurements, with height to architectural top determining the official building height. Initially there were four measurement categories; these have been reduced to three, eliminating the height to roof measurement.

The current three categories of measurement are:

  1. Height to architectural top. Permanent spires are included in this measurement. 1WTC’s height to architectural top is 1,776 feet; the Willis Tower’s height to architectural top is 1,451 feet.
  2. Height to highest occupied floor. 1WTC’s highest occupied floor is at 1,268 feet; the Willis Tower’s highest occupied floor is at 1,354 feet.
  3. Height to tip. This measurement includes antennas. 1WTC’s height to tip is 1,792 feet; the Willis Tower’s height to tip measures 1,729 feet.

March 8, 2014

A number of people have asked about my father’s efforts to help his homeland during the liberation war of 1971. This is indeed an important part of his life so I have added a page – titled 1971: Bangladesh Liberation War – to my website http://drfazlurrkhan.com. The text is based on the section “Crisis in Bangladesh” in Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan.

My thanks to everyone who asked about my father’s efforts.

FRK Collection

May 10, 2013

The Ryerson & Burnham Libraries at the Art Institute of Chicago started a Fazlur R. Khan Collection in 1992 when my mother donated some of my father’s papers and slides. There were still other files of his at home, and I looked through these as carefully as I could when I was working on Engineering Architecture. Now that the book is completed, I have decided to donate the rest of his papers so they can all be in one place. I will eventually also donate most of his slides (I want to sort through them and keep personal photos). The Collection does include some personal items, such as my father’s passport from the 1970s, to which a remarkable number of extension pages were added because of his extensive travel, a matted photo of a project given to him by Bruce Graham and signed “Another fine collaboration,” and the transcript of an oral history recording made by him in 1978.

“To Faz, Another fine collaboration,” Bruce” (this image is included in Engineering Architecture on page 255)

I have added the full text from Engineering News-Record‘s 1972 article about my father “Construction’s Man of the Year: Fazlur R. Khan” to my website dedicated to him (here is a link).

Cover of Engineering News-Record, February 10. 1972, Construction's Man of the Year issue

Cover of Engineering News-Record, February 10. 1972, Construction’s Man of the Year issue

It was during an interview for this article that he discussed his perspective on the role of engineering, saying “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.”

Memorial plaque for Fazlur R. Khan

This memorial plaque for the lobby of Onterie Center in Chicago features my father’s statement from the ENR interview