Text accompanying Birthday Tribute

April 3, 2017

I wrote a short post to accompany the Doodle. It will be archived with the Doodle in Google’s Doodle Archive.


As a youth my father never imagined that one day he would be building skyscrapers. He was born in East Bengal, British India, which became East Pakistan in 1947 and then Bangladesh in 1971. Graduate studies first brought him to the United States and the promise of challenging work drew him to a busy design office in Chicago – that of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill – where he remained until his death in 1982. A surge in demand for residential and office space in the 1960s and early 1970s made tall buildings desirable, but traditional design and construction methods were uneconomical, having evolved for shorter structures. He recognized that a new approach to skyscraper design was needed and set his mind to the task.

In 1972, at 42 years old, he was named Construction’s Man of the Year by Engineering News-Record. His pioneering work in skyscraper design was rejuvenating the design profession as he developed new ways of framing tall buildings, dramatically improving structural efficiency and economy. In 1965 he had initiated the “trussed tube” structural system with his design for Chicago’s 100-story John Hancock Center. By 1971 he was designing the world’s tallest building, the Sears Tower, using his latest innovation, the “bundled tube” (the Sears Tower, now Willis Tower, remained the “world’s tallest” for the next 22 years). His innovations subsequently formed the basis of tall building design.

A humanitarian in his personal as well as professional life, he was inspired by the belief that his work had a positive impact and he encouraged other engineers not to lose track of the purpose of their profession. When he was named Construction’s Man of the Year, he reflected, “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.”

10 Responses to “Text accompanying Birthday Tribute”

  1. Tariq Ahmad Says:

    Thank you to you and Google for sharing with us the story of this amazing, talented, generous and kind man. I will think of your dad whenever I see a skyscraper, whether in person or in print.

  2. Juan Carlos Ducca Says:

    Dear Yasmin,
    Never heard of your Father before Google commemorated his birthday. What an amazing person he was. How poignant on this time of uncertainty, to recognize the positive influence of immigrants to our country.

  3. Drago Sbragia-Zoricic Says:

    Such a wonderful, and well-deserved, tribute — both to your father and, in a way, to you, for helping spread the word of his accomplishments and importance to the history of architecture!
    — Drago Sbragia-Zoricic

  4. Shuja Says:

    I have known FRK briefly at Skidmore Owings and Merril in Chicago on a visit to him, when he discussed his plans to return to Karachi,and advised me to continue work withNed Ashton I followed his career in engineering, his achievement ,till his death in Jeddah on a visit to the Haj Terminal building designed by him. Wish you Yasmin all the best in life. Regards Shuja Hussain Sent from my iPad


  5. MD. Nazibur Rahman Says:

    Thank you and Google for honoring such a talented person. Thanks for sharing the childhood story of Dr. Fazlur Rahman. I am from Bangladesh also and graduated from the same university as him. We visited Chicago and Wilis tower and other buildings he designed together with other engineers. We were doing graduate studies in the states at that time. There is a bronze statue of him on the ground floor of Sears tower/Wilis tower. I am a fan of this great hardworking person. I read many articles about him.

  6. Andrea Says:

    I learned a lot from the google doodle today about your father. I am an engineer and was never taught about him. What an amazing man. And your work is amazing as well.

  7. Thomas Hoffman Says:

    Great to see google’s tribute to a great man and a legend in his field. My dad, Edward Hoffman knew your dad and worked with him on some things. I remember meeting him. He was a great guy who left us too soon. Glad to see you are carrying it on. God bless.

  8. Sanjay Joshi ( Sr Str Eng - Dubai ) Says:

    Mr Fazlur Khan was truely a great structural Engineer who contributed extensively to the structural engineering profession … & still is an inspiration to many in his field.
    I salute him on this anniversary.

  9. Yawar Khan Says:

    Today I learned about your father’s accomplishments and shared it with my family and friends. Such a talented and amazing person, and an inspiration to all immigrants. Thank you for sharing his story with us.

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