The tragedy of the memorial plaque

July 5, 2011

I believe that the city intended for the galleria at Onterie Center to remain a permanent public space when it approved the building design in the 1980s. But when a new owner took over the building the commercial space was extended into the galleria. As a result, the wall with the memorial plaque for my father is now hidden inside the space of a large day care center. There is no indication in the building lobby that the plaque even exists.

5 Responses to “The tragedy of the memorial plaque”

  1. Hi Dr. Khan:

    As a young teen I remember standing with my dad at the Hancock Center during its construction. I could not imagine any other building representing Chicago in my lifetime. It is a true icon. From this structure emanated the strength, vitality and engineering sophistication of an entire city. Your father
    has created this icon from his visionary ability to take two smaller planned buildings and to stand one on top of the other.
    And the way the building tapered gave it a grace uncommon for such a masculine structure.

    Your father deserves a new memorial right alongside the John Hancock Center on Michigan Avenue.
    Thank you for keeping his legacy alive!

    Jim Cleland
    architecture teacher
    Loyola Academy
    Wilmette, IL

    • Dear Jim,

      Thank you for writing. It would be wonderful to see a new memorial near the John Hancock Center. The owner and tenant’s disregard for the memorial at Onterie Center is quite upsetting. I am thankful that my father’s work is recognized at the Sears/Willis Tower with the “Fazlur R. Khan Way” street sign and the SEAOI Khan Sculpture.

      I’ve heard that the History Channel’s Modern Marvels 2005 program about the John Hancock Center is shown at the building. The film describes how the building operates and the various uses and also looks back to the development and design of the building – recalling my father’s role in a very nice way. I hope that the film is still being shown.

      Thanks again for your kind message and encouragement.

      • Yasmin:

        His work is not only remembered but his Hancock Center was the FIRST building on earth developed by algorithms. He was planning spaces by a most sophisticated process of mathematics and nascent computer programming. We heard about this at the Design Symposium held at the School of the Art Institute last November.


      • Jim,
        It sounds like a fascinating presentation. Who spoke about this?

      • There was a panel of speakers…I will get the list from the organizer from the SAIC and get back to you on this…


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