• IdentificationPUBLIC "-//The Art Institute of Chicago::Ryerson and Burnham Archives//TEXT(US::ICA::1992.7::FAZLUR R. KHAN (1929-1982) COLLECTION, 1944-1988)//EN" "ica199207.xml"
  • TitleKhan, Fazlur, (1929-1982) Collection, 1944-1988
  • PublisherRyerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago,
  • Language
    • English
    • English.
  • Date1944-1988
  • Physical Description
    • 17 linear feet (37 boxes), 3 portfolios, 3 oversized portfolio and flatfile materials
    • Manuscripts, typescript papers, printed papers, correspondence, black and white photographs, color photographs, black and white slides, color slides, audio cassettes, architectural reprographic prints and graphite drawings.
  • RepositoryRyerson and Burnham Archives, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago 111 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60603-6110 (312) 443-7292 rbarchives@artic.edu http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchives.html
  • AbstractThis collection holds professional papers and writings and a small group of personal papers of the Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur R. Khan.
  • OriginationKhan, Fazlur Rahman, 1929-1982
  • LocationThe collection is housed in the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries' on-site stacks.

Fazlur Rahman Khan was born on April 3, 1929 in Dacca, East Bengal, India (later East Pakistan, now Bangladesh), which at that time was part of British-ruled India. His father was a mathematician, author, and educational administrator. After earning his B.S. in civil engineering at the University of Dacca, Khan was awarded a Fulbright grant and a Pakistani government scholarship and came to the United States in 1952 for graduate study. In three years at the University of Illinois, Khan earned two Master's degrees (structural engineering and theoretical and applied mechanics) as well as a Doctorate in Structural Engineering.

In 1955, Khan was hired at the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). While there he also taught engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He became a partner at SOM in 1966 (the first structural engineer to do so) and a naturalized American citizen in 1967. Khan developed the revolutionary tube and bracing structural systems for the 100-story John Hancock Center and the 110-story Sears Tower, enabling tall buildings to reach new heights using economical techniques. Khan was also on the cutting edge of technology, successfully persuading the SOM partnership to purchase a mainframe computer, considered a risky investment at the time. Khan programmed the system to calculate structural engineering equations and also to create architectural drawings.

Khan wrote and lectured extensively on the development of structural systems with a specific interest in high-rise buildings, and received numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the profession. He was also involved in humanitarian causes, organizing emergency funding for the Bengali people during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Khan passed away suddenly at age 52 on March 27, 1982, while on a business trip in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. At Onterie Center, Khan is remembered with a plaque bearing his most famous statement: "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."

Most papers reflect his activities and correspondence in the few years immediately prior to Khan's unexpected death while on a business trip in 1982. In some instances, personal and research materials date to earlier years, probably kept in his office for reference. The bulk of this collection was located in Khan's office at the time of his death.

SERIES I: WRITINGS BY FAZLUR KAHN. Arranged in the following subseries: Bibliography; Published Articles and Presented Papers; and Drafts and Notes for Unfinished Writings. When known, additional publishing history is given for the text. Writings are arranged alphabetically by title.

SERIES II: WRITINGS BY OTHER AUTHORS. Research papers, arranged alphabetically by subject and then alphabetically by title within each subject.

SERIES III: SKIDMORE, OWINGS AND MERRILL PROJECTS. Arranged alphabetically by project name (built and unbuilt). Includes reports, articles and other project materials.

SERIES IV: SKIDMORE, OWINGS AND MERRILL BUSINESS PAPERS. Arranged in the following subseries: Architectural Education; Architects; Committees; Consultants; Correspondence; Operations and Miscellaneous.

SERIES V: PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS. Arranged alphabetically by association name. Includes conference papers, committee reports (technical in nature) and correspondence relating to such organizations as American Institute of Steel Construction and the Conference on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

SERIES VI: GENERAL BUSINESS AND PERSONAL PAPERS. Arranged in the following subseries: Awards and Honors; Biographical Information; Correspondence; Humanitarian Activities; Memberships; Professional Registrations, Seals and Stamps; Travel and Miscellaneous.

SERIES VII: ILLINOIS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY. Arranged in the following subseries: Correspondence; Curriculum and Student Theses.

SERIES VIII: ARAB AND ISLAMIC SUBJECTS. Arranged in the following subseries: Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture; The Arab City Symposium; The Arab World Conference; Architecture and Urbanism Symposium; Architecture, General; East-West University; Education, Arab Contribution; Islamic Culture and Religion; Mimar; Saudi Arabia, General and Saudi Arabia, Housing.

SERIES IX: PHOTOGRAPHS AND SLIDES. Arranged in the following subseries: Architecture; Personal; and Miscellaneous. Within those subseries, are the following files: Illinois Institute of Technology, Student Work; Khan, Fazlur R., Memorial Services; Khan, Fazlur R., Portrait Views; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill General Studies; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Projects; Travel and Architecture; Miscellaneous.

SERIES X: AUDIO-VISUAL MATERIALS. This series is restricted from patron use. Please consult the Archivist for further information. Arranged in one series: Audio Cassettes.

SERIES XI: NEGATIVES. This series is restricted from patron use. Please consult the Archivist for further information. Arranged in the following series: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill General Studies; Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Projects; and Travel and Architecture.

  • Subject
    • Civil engineers--Biography
    • John Hancock Center (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Sears Tower (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Skyscrapers--Designs and plans
    • Skyscrapers--United States
    • Structural engineering
    • Engineering design
  • Names
    • Khan, Fazlur R.
    • Khan, Fazlur R.--Archives
    • Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


























The collection may be used by qualified readers in the Reading Room of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries at The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections maintained on-site are available for patron use without prior arrangement or appointment. Collections maintained in off-site storage will be retrieved with advance notification; please consult the Archivist for the current retrieval schedule. For further information, consult http://www.artic.edu/aic/libraries/rbarchives/rbarchaccess.html

The Art Institute of Chicago is providing access to the materials in the Libraries' collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of the Art Institute is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Archivist, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to permission from the Art Institute, permission of the locatiomcopyright owner (if not the Art Institute) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distribution, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. The Art Institute makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.

Fazlur Khan Collection, Ryerson and Burnham Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago.

This collection was donated to the Ryerson and Burnham Archives by Liselotte Khan, Fazlur Khan's widow, in 1992.

The collection was processed by the Ryerson and Burnham Archives. Additional materials were added and the finding aid revised and expanded by Annemarie van Roessel in 2003, Nathaniel Parks in 2004 and Kim Krueger in 2014.