The Importance and Influence of Fazlur Rahman Khan

Practically anyone in the building and architectural business is aware of who Fazluree Rahman Khan is and just how significant a figure he is in the industry. Who was he? He was a complex and unique man as well as a professional. Where do we begin in telling what he’s done for the betterment of this world? It’s best to start with how he transformed the world of architecture and then go from there.

Fazlur Rahman Khan’s perspectives

His unique approach to design took on every possible conceivable aspect. His methods were not only technical, innovative and practical, but they also considered the architects’ perspectives and the aesthetics which were to be embodied for each project. He was a brilliant engineer who knew how to plan every part of the building with detail that may not have occurred to a less complicated person. His mind could move in multiple different directions at once and instead of experiencing a shutdown from all the information, he could categorize his thoughts succinctly for later retrieval to pursue the respective parts that would form the gestalt.

His cultural and anthropological approach

Fazlur Khan had a deep understanding and respect for the human race. He understood that local culture and sentiment were important in crafting a design that would fit in and be welcomed within the local community each project would serve, be it an entity, organization or for the public. His sensitivity went beyond the ordinary scope of professionalism and crossed over into the spiritual and the philosophical.

Interpretations of philosophy in the language of mathematics

Fazlur Khan maintained the SOM philosophy that a structure must bear natural features in the facade devoid of fakery and a product of form arrived at from mathematical calculations to exude the beauty of nature and bring it down from the lofty philosophies of the creative mind into building that was suitable for man to live in comfort and functionality. A philosopher and educator, Khan was a well-rounded man with the ability to combine his visions into practicality.

Solid conceptualization

He had the innate ability to conceptualize the parts of a building that would undergo the most strenuous of twisting and stresses, an essential in any sound design. Aesthetics aside the integrity was of utmost importance and the rest could factor in later in the process of design. One of his goals was to focus upon the natural strengths of the building and ensure they would be expressed in the final completion of the project. He understood the physics and how one part depended on another for support. A sensitive man of keen social responsibility, a love for the arts, literature and all things lovely as well as for the sciences, he was a universal man and a rare example of humanity at its best.

His evolution

Fazlur Rahman Khan laid eyes on his first skyscraper when he was 21 years old. Throughout his brilliant career, he moved from one discovery to another with a brilliant mind that absorbed much information and processed it into concepts and plans. He pursued his formal education and advanced in his profession to become the man who transformed skyscrapers throughout the world with his brilliance in structural engineering. Not everyone could comprehend his concept of “structural empathy” but he explained it as buildings acting like the human body in the way that stresses are absorbed and responded to and it brought about a more natural way of viewing the structural engineering process, which has been one of his greatest contributions to the world. Khan passed away n 1982, but his legacy continues through every building featuring his approach to design and through every engineer and architect who employs his teaching and concepts in practice.

Final thoughts

Khan left us with the exhortation to not lose sight of those things that are important in life. Work is important but the people, even more so. The deeply spiritual man encouraged professionals in the engineering industry to maintain their sense of purpose and pay attention to all of these aspects. In 1972 he was named Construction’s Man of the year and ten years later the world bid him farewell. He left behind a wealth of information that will be used for decades to come.

Here are 10 Things You Might Not Know about Him

1. The Einstein of structural engineering

Fazlur Rahman Khan has earned his nickname in the architectural and engineering industry because he was one of the single most important influences upon the renaissance in the construction of skyscrapers in the latter part of the 20th century. He introduced innovations in structural systems which became the fundamentals of current modern skyscraper design.

2. Fazlur Rahman Khan inspired an achievement award

In honor and remembrance of this genius in structural engineering, a special award for excellence has been created. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat created the Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal This is a very special and coveted honor that exists as one of their CTBUH Skyscraper awards. In the architecture and structural engineering field, this award is the equivalent to a Pulitzer or a Nobel and only the most innovative and remarkable are considered for eligibility.

3. Skyscraper design wasn’t his only accomplishment

As an architectural engineer, Khan was best known for his innovations in skyscraper design. This s what made him so very famous throughout the world, but these were not his only noteworthy structures. He designed a great many other things throughout his career. He is also known in India for his design of the Hajj airport terminal. He also designed multiple stadium structures and quite notably, the McMath-Piers solar telescope.

4. He was Man of the year

Engineering News Record named Fazlur Rahman Khan as their Man of the year in 1972. This was not the only honor that they bestowed upon him. They also cited him on five separate occasions as an individual who made significant contributions to the construction industry and as one who “served the best interests of he construction industry.”

5. He received several honorary doctorates

Fazlur Rahman Khan was so highly regarded that several distinguished institutions saw fit to recognize his talents and his contributions to the betterment of the world by bestowing upon him honorary doctorates. Northwestern University was one of them, as well as Lehigh University, along with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. He received international acclaim and recognition throughout the globe. He was also elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1973.

6. He is still mentioned by public figures today

Although Fazlur Rhaman Khan is no longer living, he is still referred to by public figures and the world has not forgotten his contributions. President Obama referred to Khan in a 2009 speech, delivered in Cairo, Egypt, discussing great achievements made by Muslim citizens of America. He was one of them that was mentioned.

7. Khan’s birthday is also remembered

On April 3, 2017, Google Doodle the birthday of Fazlur Rahman Khan. They made him the subject on the day that would have been his 88th birthday had he lived that long. He’s a great American and although there has not yet been a national holiday set aside to honor his memory, we see that there are many who still look back, gratefully and remember the date of his birth and the amazing technology that his innovative and creative mind has brought to mankind. It’s a lasting legacy which will endure through his creations and through the structures that have yet to be built, using his practical innovations.

8. He stacked up multiple awards

Throughout his career, Khan’s work did not go unnoticed. He received multiple awards along his journey. Lehigh University set up a promotion for educational activities and research in his honor with the Fazlur Rahman Khan Endowed Chair of Structural Engineering and Architactural Honors to advance architectural sensibility and advance his legacy in engineering. in 1973 he received the Alfred Lindau Award from the American Concrete Institute, in 1971, the Wason Medal, in 1972, the Thomas Middlebrooks Award, The Ernest Howard Award in 1977, the Kimbrough Medal in 1973 from the American Institute of Steel Construction, The Oscar Faber medal in 1973, the International Award of Merit in Structural Engineering in 1983, awarded by the International Assciation for Bridge and Structural Engineering, the AIA Institute Honor for Distinguished Achievement, and the John Parmer Award.

9. He honored the United States of America

Fazlur Rahman Khan made the decision to become a citizen of the united States in 1967. Khan, earned two master’s degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in structural engineering and in theoretical and applied mechanics. He also earned a PhD in structural engineering here in America. He chose to become a member of this great nation when it’s obvious he’d have been welcomed in most countries in the world.

10. He left this planet too soon

Fazlur Rahman Khan was born on April 3, 1929 in Dhaka, Bengal Presidency, British India. It is the present day Bangladesh. He passed away on March 27, 1982. He was just 52 years of age. He was lad to rest in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois. He passed away from a heart attack and he was still a young man with so much more left to give. He left this world much too soon.


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