How a Muslim Immigrant from Bangladesh Became America’s Master Builder

If the United States has a national architectural form, it is the skyscraper. The notion of building a tower to the heavens is as old as Genesis, but it took some brash 19th century Americans to develop that fanciful idea into tangible, profitable buildings. Although we dressed up our early skyscrapers in Old World styles (the Met Life Tower as an Italian campanile, the Woolworth Building as a French Gothic cathedral), most foreigners agreed that the skyscraper suited only our misfit nation. For decades, Americans were alone in building them. Even those European modernists who dreamed of gleaming towers along Friedrichstraße and Boulevard de Sébastopol had to cross the Atlantic for a chance to act on their ambitions. By the start of World War II, 147 of the 150 tallest habitable buildings on the planet were located in the United States. 

No building style better represented America’s industriousness, monomaniacal greed, disregard of tradition, and eagerness to attempt feats that more established cultures considered obscene. And while those indelicate traits prompted Americans to develop the skyscraper, it was our openness and multiculturalism that brought us our greatest skyscraper builder: a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant named Fazlur Rahman Khan.

Khan was born on April 3rd, 1929 in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Dacca, British India at the time). His father, a mathematics instructor, cultivated young Fazlur’s interest in technical subjects and encouraged him to pursue a degree at Calcutta’s Bengal Engineering College. He excelled in his studies there and, after graduating, won a Fulbright Scholarship that brought him to the University of Illinois. In the United States, Khan studied structural engineering and engineering mechanics, earning two master’s degrees and a PhD in just three years. After a detour in Pakistan, Khan returned to the United States and was hired as an engineer in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), one of the most prominent architecture and engineering firms in the world.

Though he was born in a nation with no history of highrise construction, Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan had worked his way to a position where he would revolutionize the field of structural engineering and build America’s proudest landmarks.

A Tall Order

The most challenging aspect in the design of a skyscraper is not resisting the immense weight of the structure, but rather countering the lateral loads – like wind and earthquakes – that act to push the building over. In fact, some consider the very definition of the word “skyscraper” to be any building which is tall enough for wind load to be the dominant design concern.

The vertical loads on a building, including the weight of the structure (called “dead load”) and the weight of its inhabitants (“live load”), are caused by gravity. The resultant vertical forces are therefore relatively predictable, static, and unidirectional. Wind loads, on the other hand, are much more challenging to quantify, act in any direction, and can introduce more esoteric effects like vortex shedding. (Then of course, there are earthquake loadings, which I cannot even begin to tackle in this article. I will note that tall, slender buildings tend to perform well in seismic conditions because of their inherent flexibility.)

Wframeshen wind pushes up against the side of a building, the structure will have a tendency to bend. In order to resist this bending, the building must have a certain rigidity or it would flop over like an Italian soccer player. Earlier skyscrapers like the Woolworth Building and the Empire State Building resisted this overturning by employing moment frames (also called portal frames). Essentially, columns and beams were rigidly connected so that they did not rotate relative to one another. The frames, when placed parallel to the wind load they were to resist, proved to be sufficiently rigid. These early skyscrapers also benefited from heavy stone, brick, and terra cotta facades, which also served as a sort of skyscraper ballast.

However, the inherent inefficiencies of this lateral system rendered “supertall” buildings (roughly defined as towers over 1000 feet tall) prohibitively expensive to build. The vertical loading on a skyscraper increases linearly with height: In a building with no taper, the 80th floor weighs the same as the 40th. However, the overturning moment due to wind load increases quadratically with height. In other words, an 80 story building has to resist four times more bending moment due to wind than a 40 story building. (It’s actually even higher than four times because the wind speeds themselves are considered to increase with the height of the building.)

A developer’s primary motivation for building a skyscraper is to stack up as many floors as possible in order to maximize the rentable space and earn a high return on investment. As architect Cass Gilbert put it, a skyscraper is “a machine to make the land pay.” However, the material and labor costs of the old, inefficient, moment frames presented a financial “premium for height,” which equated to diminishing returns on construction over 40 or so stories. Without a more efficient lateral system, supertall buildings just wouldn’t pay.

The Framed Tube

In developing the lateral resisting system for the 43-story tall Chestnut-DeWitt Apartments in Chicago, Khan saw an opportunity to step back from traditional lateral framed_tube.jpgdesign and attempt a more holistic, three-dimensional approach. Instead of designing the building as a series of discrete moment frames or shear walls to resist lateral loads, Khan envisioned the entire building as a hollow rectangular tube, rigidly anchored in its foundation. He would have to pierce this tube to make windows, but the building itself would behave like a large cantilevered box beam: The bending due to wind load would be resisted not only by the sides parallel to the wind, but by the perpendicular faces as well. The windward side would be forced into tension and the leeward side would be forced into compression. As a bonus, by pushing the structure out to the perimeter, he also provided more unobstructed column-free space on the interior of the building.

Chestnut Dewitt [image source]
Finished in 1964, the Chestnut-DeWitt Building was just another boxy skyscraper in the same sense that Sputnik was just a metal basketball full of robot guts. The building doesn’t particularly stand out on the Chicago skyline, but its lateral system proved to be revolutionary. Other engineers immediately recognized the efficiency of the framed tube, and its influence could be seen in the designs of Chicago’s Amoco Building (now Aon Center) and New York’s World Trade Center.

Even though the Chestnut-DeWitt building was a success, Khan recognized that his framed tube design had a deficiency: due to the cumulative flexibility of the concrete beams and columns, he could not achieve the true bending effect that he sought. Instead, a phenomenon called “shear lag” robbed some of the stiffness from the building and prevented the theoretically ideal distribution of stresses. Fortunately, he would have an opportunity to revisit this issue some years later.

The John Hancock Center and the Trussed Tube

Image by Antoine Taveneaux CC-BY-SA

The John Hancock Center had originally been conceived by developer Jerry Wolman as two smaller buildings on a plot along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. SOM’s architects puzzled over the design before settling on a single, large, multi-use tower. To accommodate large floor plates for offices and smaller floor plates for apartments, the team developed a building that would gently taper with height, forming a tall, truncated pyramid.

Khan saw this as an opportunity to implement the trussed tube design, a concept that he had developed with Mikio Sasaki, a student of his at Illinois Institute of Technology. Unlike Chestnut-DeWitt’s mesh of columns and beams, the rigidity of this new tower would be derived from trusses formed by strong diagonal steel members on all four faces. The extreme stiffness of the trussed tube would reduce the shear lag effect, distribute vertical loads more evenly, and enable an even more open, column-free interior space.

The Hancock Center’s unique design required close collaboration between SOM’s architecture and engineering teams. After no small number of design iterations, Fazlur Khan and architect Bruce Graham found an optimal size, slope, and floor height to allow the architectural program to mesh with the structural design. The building would taper from a base of 165 feet by 265 feet to a roof of 100 feet by 160 feet, with 6 tiers of bold cross braces marching up the 1107 foot tall façade.

However, after determining the layout of the building’s trussed tube, the developer proposed removing the diagonals from the topmost floors to eliminate visual obstructions from the high-value spaces. Khan knew this to be structurally feasible, but he felt that it would ruin the strong “structural-visual continuity” established by the lower 900 feet of continuous cross bracings. Halting the braces before their natural termination at the top of the tower would be like if last scene in Casablanca had been shot in claymation, or if the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 7th had been written for the didgeridoo. He eventually convinced the owner to leave the braces in place by using an engineer’s most powerful rhetorical device: purposefully indecipherable technical jargon intended to confuse the other party into submission. Khan got his way, and the top tier diagonals were built.

Upon its completion in 1969, the Hancock was just the second 100 story skyscraper ever built. Whereas the 102 story Empire State Building required 42.2 pounds of steel per square foot, the John Hancock Center used a paltry 29.7 pounds per square foot. This 30% savings in raw materials would have been enough steel to build an entirely separate 40 story skyscraper. The efficient use of material also equated to fewer deliveries, shop drawings, crane picks, and labor hours. By chipping away at the “premium for height,” Khan began to demonstrate to developers that a 100 story building need not be more expensive than two equivalent 50 story buildings.

Graham and Khan’s decision to expose the trussed tube framing also made the John Hancock Center an instant architectural icon. As an example of structural expressionism in its purest and most elegant form, the Hancock leaves the passerby no doubt as to how its incredible height was achieved. I hold this building in such high regard that I refuse to buy the Lego Hancock Center because of its nauseating inaccuracy.

I also believe, but cannot prove, that the John Hancock Center served as the inspiration for the Plymouth Arcology from SimCity 2000.

The Sears Tower and the Bundled Tube

Image by J. Crocker
Image by J. Crocker

When Sears acquired a 3 acre parcel of land on South Wacker Drive in Chicago, the company hired SOM for the design of a tower with 2 million square feet of office space for its own headquarters and for additional tenants. Khan, now a partner with SOM, saw this as an opportunity to implement an idea that had been on his mind since the development of the DeWitt-Chestnut Apartments. Aware of that the shear lag effect limited the efficiency of his framed tube design, Khan believed that he could add rigidity by introducing secondary stiffeners along each building face. In other words, he would divide one large tube into a grid of smaller tubes, and this “bundled tube” would behave with considerably less shear lag. Khan illustrated this design by holding a bunch of drinking straws tightly in his fist: each individual straw was flimsy, but when all of them were bundled together they became strong.

Again, Khan worked in close collaboration with Bruce Graham and project engineer Hal Iyengar to develop a design strategy that would fit the client’s demands. After experimenting with a number of configurations, the team eventually chose an optimal 3 by 3 bundle of 75 foot by 75 foot tube modules, giving the tower a footprint of 225 feet square. These nine tubes extended upward 50 floors, at which point 2 of them dropped off, leaving only seven to continue up to the 66th floor. Just 5 tubes continued going up to the 90th floor, and only two up to the 108th floor roof.

The lateral load analysis proved to be exceptionally complex due to the tower’s height and unusual asymmetrical wind profile. Given the unprecedented nature of their design and the uncertainties associated with the dynamic response of such a building, Khan and Iyengar were purposefully conservative in calculating the stresses on their lateral system. As a result, the final design is sufficient to resist forces nearly twice as high as those produced by the most violent wind storm that Chicago could expect to see in 1000 years.

When the Sears Tower (now called the Willis Tower) was completed in 1973, it earned the title of tallest building in the world, which it would hold for over 22 years.

Only a Steel Man

Khan also designed One Shell Square in New Orleans, BHP House in Melbourne, the U.S. Bank Center in Milwaukee, Onterie Center and One Magnificent Mile in Chicago, and the Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Each project brought a novel structural solution and yet another advancement in the state of engineering design. If it were not for his untimely death at the age of 52, I’m certain we would all be living in Cloud City, the floating Bespin mining outpost from The Empire Strikes Back.

In addition to his lateral load resisting systems, Khan demonstrated a pioneering attitude in tackling more arcane topics in highrise design, such human comfort in response to skyscraper sway, and the effects of temperature variations on structural systems. He also authored or co-authored over a hundred engineering papers, advised an army of students, and gave academic lectures across the world. In honor of his contributions to the field of structural engineering, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named their Lifetime Achievement Medal after him. If previous generations of engineers set the bar high, then Khan jumped over that bar and into the sun.

Fazlur Khan’s impact on the world of architecture was so momentous that he merits appreciation from more than just weirdo engineers like me. Although the man has passed away and his tallest buildings have been overtaken, Khan’s work informs the design of nearly every supertall skyscraper in the world. Whether you live in Chicago, Dubai, Moscow, London, or Shenzhen, you will find yourself in the shadow of Fazlur Rahman Khan.

Alex Weinberg, P.E. is a structural engineer living and working in New York City. You can e-mail him at

To read more about Dr. Fazlur Rahman Khan, please see Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan by Yasmin Sabina Khan (Dr. Khan’s daughter) and Art of the Skyscraper: The Genius of Fazlur Khan by Mir Ali.


112 thoughts on “How a Muslim Immigrant from Bangladesh Became America’s Master Builder

      1. This is the dumbest comment I’ve heard all day! Mr. Khan is a proud Muslim, and a Bengali. For your kind information 65% of Muslims are non Arabs. Bengalis, Indonesians, Malaysians and 200 Million Indian muslims are some of the best of Engineers, Doctors, Scientists in the region.

    1. Here’s your Twin Towers (World Trade Center) reference:

      “Other engineers immediately recognized the efficiency of the framed tube, and its influence could be seen in the designs of Chicago’s Amoco Building (now Aon Center) and New York’s World Trade Center.”

  1. Surprised he wasn’t called a ‘Refuge’ Or better, a ‘climate refuge’.

    Apparent latent racism in the title or not, Khan was there when SOM was making their ‘important buildings’. If anyone wants to checkout Khan’s successor at SOM (in many ways), look into Bill Baker.

      1. I didn’t write the title. If you look at the URL, you can see what I originally chose. Still, I don’t mind the final title because I live in a country where “Muslim” and “terrorist” have become synonymous. If I can say something to counter that untruth, then great.

        1. The only way to change the perception of Muslims will be to change the modus operandi of the entire western military industrial complex, as well as the propaganda efforts of the entire western media.

          Good luck doing that by lambasting technical people, hacker types, about race and religion. Maybe you are not lambasting u = but you have just tacitly admitted to running your own propaganda campaign.

          What on earth does perceptions of Muslims have to do with this man?

          This man is not a modern Muslim, was a real immigrant, not a refuge.

          Khan is incredible – but using his legacy in this way is just pathetic. And I AGREE WITH YOU about Muslims – it is a shame what our country(USA) has done. Cant change it this way….

          1. Wrong, phil.

            The headline alone basically implies that it required a muslim to be the master builder of all america. A specific claim.

            Further the article itself claims multiculturalism was the reason Khan was successful, not that he integrated well into our society.

            “And while those indelicate traits prompted Americans to develop the skyscraper, it was our openness and multiculturalism that brought us our greatest skyscraper builder: a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant named Fazlur Rahman Khan.”

            This man is “the greatest” skyscraper builder in our history? It was multiculturalism that caused it?

            WRONG, and WRONG.

            1) We have a lot of tall building history in USA, and Khan simply is not the greatest of anything – that is highly subjective, and also demonstrably false. Start with Sullivan. end With Mies.. These are the actual builders of sky scrapers in USA. Khan was just an engineer. True fact.

            2) Multiculturalism was barely a concept when Khan immigrated. What allowed Khan to succeed was his own intelligence and also the organization he ended up working for, SOM, who would have built many great and impressive works with or without Khan.

            This article IS racist. It starts with the premise that Americans cannot achieve without immigrants. This article is race-driven, about race, and also has a strong central message that has nothing to do with engineering or architecture.

            Some of us know how to understand what we read, others don’t.

          2. no Noriwal. i dont think so. dont paint religion into this. if you saying religion is a requirement for some worldly acheivement, then perhaps isis requires islam. logic is 2 way not 1 way.

          3. Noirwhal, saying that America doesn’t need immigrants to achieve things is a bit undercut by your holding up Mies as one of the great builders of skyscrapers in the US.

        2. I understand that at this moment in time it could be marginally relevant to mention his faith given prevailing attitudes, but the fact of the matter remains that a similar article extolling the accomplishments of another that identified him as a Jew in the title, where that affiliation was not in and of itself a factor would draw considerable flack.

          1. Prevailing attitudes are that Muslims and muslim americans are useful additions to our country, but that unlimited immigration, even if called ‘refugee resettlement’ is terrible for local economy, social structures, and job prospects for existing citizens.

            The prevailing attitude isnt that Muslim people have never done anything technical or interesting.. Far from it.

            If hackaday wants to be a by-the-book mainstream democratic (not even leftist) blog, then that is their right, but they might find that means the comment sections turn into a political discussion, as would make perfect sense!

            Simply conflating all Muslim immigrants with fake-refuges is lying, and will be met with skepticism.

            I fully support legal immigration. I roundly condemn military adventurism and capitalist gerrymandering of labor.

        3. I really wish there was a way to highlight your comment to the top, because this is disturbing. Who changed the title?

          This comes off as a really clumsy attempt to exclaim “see, Muslims aren’t all bad” which… it comes off that awkward. I didn’t think they were bad to begin with, this guy was from a completely different era, and it’s just so… non-sequitur wrong. All for… controversy? Come on HaD just make a separate article if you want to ask this, instead of thread-crapping a good article on the awesome work Kahn did.

          I mean, I hope none of us now has a problem with a man who came to the United States around 1950 (???), was an architectural savant, and happened to be Muslim. Specifically, does anyone here have a specific beef with 1950 Muslims, that moved the U.S. (because you know, the U.S. used to be about coming here and not being judged).

          I dunno, who changed the title? Maybe HaD needs an editorial category or column so that editors can directly ask these questions instead of feeling they have to work them into articles.

      2. Lets be clear. The writer is not talking about religion.. This is part of some campaign, official or not, like clock boy, to take advantage of race issues, use race as a tool, use race to get clicks, etc.

        Also, “Not a hack”. . Not a hack at all.. Khan was not working in a vacuum, others were doing this work first, including people like Louis Sullivan.

        So this not a hack is all about race and religion….

        Why not call all atheist hackers ‘This Atheisat hack by Atheist hacker Mark….’

        1. The Clock Boy post and subsequent mentions of him generated lots of mouse clicks on HackaDay. That is what advertisers want to know before committing money for ads, How many clicks…

  2. Nice article, it has always hurt my head how structural analysis was done on buildings before computers were a thing. Back of napkin calculations for simple beam shapes can only take you so far I would imagine. They sure as hell aren’t going to model vortex shedding accurately. I guess back then they just overbuilt like crazy, tested models in wind tunnels, etc. I can’t imagine the pucker factor of building something like the empire state building having only tested a few scale models though.

    Speaking of that, it would make a really interesting topic for an article to hash out how that was done back in the day.

    1. They didnt do ‘back of napkin’ modeling.

      They built up faiirly in depth understanding of these buildings with both formal mathematical investigation, and scale models, material science research, and so on.

      They used paper.. That is the big difference. FEA analysis did not spring whole out of microcomputers – it was a modern variation of old fashioned structural analysis.

      Read about the slide rule to learn about one aspect of ‘how it was done before’.

        1. I did.
          He shows a fundamental misunderstanding about the history and methods of structural analysis.

          My comment was not a discourse, but it helps him get the idea that everything was not informal before computers.

          Just for example, the steel beams used to build empire state building were carefully engineered, including all sorts of failure testing, load testing, and so on.

          His comments are more relevant to something like the Sistine chapel.

          1. I wasn’t trying to argue that these buildings went up after a few cursory back of napkin calcs, my comment was confusing to read I guess. I was trying to say that obviously that wouldn’t have been how it was done, so it would be interesting to hear about what went into a structural analysis back then.

            I mean I get what you’re saying, you do failure testing of pieces of your building such as the beams, but it’s putting that together into a comprehensive model that shows the building is strong enough, compiling everything into one big stamp of approval – that is mind boggling and really still is amazing today even with computers.

      1. Well yeah, that’s what I was saying would be interesting to learn more about. Yes, FEA is just breaking a big problem into lots of small problems, a concept that predates computers. What hurts my head is how you get around the computations associated with computer driven FEA. Even with a hundred people working their fingers to a nub with slide rules you can only perform so many computations. Then what happens when you want to change something, the whole process starts from scratch. I just think it’s an interesting topic to, how that sort of thing was done. Maybe designs were heavily restricted to what could easily be modeled, in other words boxes and trusses that you can develop formulas for based on empirical testing rather than strange organic shapes.

        1. The materials available and the construction methods known did not exactly call for the sort of FEA analysis you specifically mention.

          FEA analysis is also not the only type of analysis – in fact for something like a steel framed building, you simply dont need it. The math used to analyze a steel framed building can be surprisingly straight-forward for a math person.

          There are many awesome books on this subject. You could easily find them by googling, but you can also start by looking at the oldest architecture books which include structural engineering. The link to de architectura will be quite fun for you, it sounds like.

          1. It’s just straightforward to figure out how a skyscraper vibrates in the wind or what its stiffness is, easy to do with a few hand calculations? I mean I’m trying to give credit to old school structural engineers, if you say it’s straight-forward, who I am I to argue. I took a statics course about 15 years ago in college and it was tedious enough calculating stiffness and doing linear elastic analysis of homogenous bars of material in perfect cylindrical or rectangular shapes. A building is like a zillion of those all bolted together at different angles, so it made sense to me the hand analysis would be fairly involved. What about dynamic stuff like the vibration of a tall building with vortexes shedding off of it at various angles? Earthquakes? That can’t be simple to do by hand.

    1. To increase their readership they have two options:

      1) Organize their now voluminous daily posts into categories, make comments actually meaningful with tools so users can reply to each other, follow each others comments, etc. Categories alone would make the site far more usable, as we are now bombarded by a variety of material each day, some cool hacks, some obviously adverts, some apparent military propaganda (retro column), some obvious use of idiotic media sensationalism involving race.

      The deluge of only tangentially inter-related material has become overwhelming to me, at least, and I now visit hackaday much less than I used to. The staunch refusal to have categories or column format is…. understandable in the past, but at this point is just silly.


      2) Attempt to follow the media trend (age old as it is) of using race, sex, and other hot button divisive topics.

      They seem to have chosen number 2.

    2. It’s an interesting story told in the “humble beginnings” tradition. It only becomes identity politics when people start losing their shit over a word that occurs once in the story and is completely incidental to the informational content.

      Contrast it with the clock boy story, where a controversial response by various authority figures may or may not have been influenced by the kid’s religion, but the discussion was completely off the rails from the start.

      Thanks for the story HaD, I never heard of this guy before and the subject material is very cool.

        1. Would just like to say that I enjoyed the article too, but was actually looking for the Illuminati/Scooby Doo/Justified Ancients of Mumu/NSA/NRA/Stone Cutters Tinfoil Headgear Emporium website. Can you help?

          1. Phil and Alex,

            Only the content of the second paragraph had any meaning or connection to the actual title of the article(whoever wrote it). The rest of the lengthly, interesting and well written article was in the style of a textbook. It recounted known facts, and did it well, but it was not the topic of the title, nor was it the point of the somewhat controversial claim that not only is Khan the best builder of tall buildings ever in America, but further it was ‘multiculturalism’ that allowed it.

            Now – we can think about these claims, which was in fact the entire rationale behind including them: to cause discussion of the controversial claim unrelated to the material then presented. This was the goal. It is working. Good job Alex. Study what you did here.

            To dig deeper. Globalism and globalization mean different things to different individuals – but to the politicians, bankers and businessmen – and therefor policy writers and makers – it means opening borders for work forces. You following along guys? Globalization, not concern for human rights, is pushing the so-called immigration crisis. Maybe you guys dont know any workers from blue colar tech and mfg. backgrounds, but those who do know what globalization has done to them.

            The so-called rerugee crisis is a reaction to ‘shrinking populations in the west’. Scoff if you want, but this is obvious. No one playing sim-city (the god like master) wants to see their population shrink. Our populations are shrinking.

            Businessmen capitalists and their bought politicians are desperate to bring in workers. They always say “we cannot find enough qualified people” – but they never include “at the price we want to pay”,

            Surely by now you are wondering what this has to do with the article. But I will tell you, this is the most relevant comment on the article above. The article above is a short promotion of open borders, followed by a long and well done but irrelevant to the topic of the article section about a notable structural engineer. These are two different topics, but only one is the point of this specific paper.

            I dont expect a reply. Alex has shown himself immature at best, but certainly unable to go beyond hackneyed quips, what I would call trolling. He apparently does not even understand what his own article is about.

            “No building style better represented America’s industriousness, monomaniacal greed, disregard of tradition, and eagerness to attempt feats that more established cultures considered obscene. And while those indelicate traits prompted Americans to develop the skyscraper, it was our openness and multiculturalism that brought us our greatest skyscraper builder: a Bangladeshi Muslim immigrant named Fazlur Rahman Khan.”

            This is the ONLY unique content in the entire article, and it is also the only portion of the article which lines up with the title – or the page URL, sorry Alex, you either knew what you are doing, or are too intellectually dishonest or too inexperienced in political issues to even discuss your repeated propaganda.

          2. Failed sarcasm is no weapon against an obvious truth for me.
            But I’m sure it works for many others.

            But yeah this crap is EXACTLY what HaD is ostensible hoping for, and which if successful will make not only the site annoying but the average commenter to be so infuriatingly annoying and moronic that only those part of that group can maintain a presence.
            But nothing lasts forever I suppose. And HaD has been around for quite a while and even after the sell-off it has been going good for a good stretch of time. So perhaps expressing dismay when things veer towards a cliff is both pointless and even exaggerated because of that.

  3. next time you report on mies van der rohe don’t forget to mention that he was a catholic from prussiam rhineland, because, boy, was that ever relevant to his work and life. throw in mandatory buzzwords, say, openness and multiculturalism. and what about diversity? vibrancy? did the word processor jam?

    earnestly, an interesting man worth an article, but must the corrupt fake left signal virtue even here? when you fart rainbows and belch pixie dust, how about doing that at home? the capital is foisting third world’s vibrant and multicultural workforce on us so the resident worker bees don’t get uppity–if you don’t like it triple whammy, you’re a racist, a right wing nut job, of all things, and a loser. I guess doesn’t get sponsored by the billionaires from and the ford foundation, so why just can’t you call it a day and leave us in peace? note to self: don’t click on the ads, ever.

    1. I think it would be good for cultural acceptance of my lack of relgion, atheism, if all atheists work was identified clearly as being the work of atheists.

      This would have a huge impact on the simple problem that according to polls, most people dont trust atheists….

        1. Noirwhal made some good points, but he would have had more traction if he spoke with some level of humility and lost the condescending tone that just causes people to get angry and shut down.

          I didn’t love the headline either, it came off poorly for sure. I think the choice of words was more innocent than people are alleging though, at worst it was a cheap tactic to use the subject’s religion as a way to get more clicks. To accuse hackaday of having some grand agenda geared at bringing in cheap Syrian labor – that’s nothing but a ridiculous conspiracy theory.

    2. I wouldn’t mind if an article on the life work of Mies mentioned that he was a Prussian Catholic. That background may influence some of his thinking, and if it doesn’t that’s interesting too.

      The only difference would be a lack of pulsing forehead veins and frothing in the comments.

      1. Maths is universal and engineering is just it’s manifestation. If anything maths has a unifying effect on what otherwise superstitious people do. This entire race-religion-whatever thing is bullshit, complete and utter political-correctness-activism bullshit, and worst of all it is divisive as well as being false.

        1. I’m an engineer myself, and in school I wasn’t generally interested in taking non-technical electives because there was so much bullshit on offer in so many of those courses. (I had one literature professor I’d always feel privileged to have a beer with and discuss broader subjects, though. Can’t recall a technical prof I’d say the same for.)

          On the other hand, dismissing any slight glance at the life experience of someone like Mies or Khan as “political-correctness-activism bullshit” speaks clearly about you and says nothing at all about the original topic of discussion.

          No, I didn’t just call you a racist. You’d have to hit a relatively high bar for me to call you a racist – that’s a highly overused word online. But you sure come off as more than a little myopic.

          1. You’d be a dick-head if you did call me racist given that this issue is religion, which is a choice, and the fact that I am in a multicultural marriage which would have been unlawful in the southern states of the USA only a generation ago.

            I respect people’s human right to religious freedom, but only if they acknowledge that implies I also have a right to be completely free from all religions.

            So well done all you did was guarantee that I consider all of your opinions irrelevant or of low value due to your demonstrated tenancy to make claims based on idiotic assumptions. So why did you even bother, are you trolling?

          2. You: “This entire race-religion-whatever thing is bullshit.”

            All I was trying to do was forestall a “did you just call me X” response, for a random but common value of X.

            I’m an atheist myself, so I get the freedom from religion thing. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go off about “race-religion-whatever bullshit” or “political-correctness-whatever bullshit” every time someone mentions the background of a historically important figure. Unless they start claiming something like Einstein was religious, because that truly is bullshit.

          3. I am not an atheist, a/theism is an irrational duality based on the false claim that one can prove or disprove a thing without even being able to fully comprehend or define what that thing is. Only a godlike entity could describe a god well enough to prove that one could or could not exist.

            Religion is not important in the context of maths and engineering, if anything (as the above observation demonstrates) it is well below the more rational modes of cognition. As for spiritually, well that is a slightly different topic, and out of context.

            Saying religion is important to the work of engineers is like saying breaking wind was essential to the work of Leonardo Da Vinci, sure he may have done it, but we all do, even if they smell and sound distinctly different, but where is the proof that one is directly essential to the other?

          4. dan,

            I’d love to continue having this theism/atheism discussion, but regrettably HaD probably isn’t the best place for it. To try to keep it short, I’m not claiming what one might refer to as “strong atheism”:

            Getting back closer to the original topic, it’s interesting that you bring up Da Vinci. Yes, breaking wind is one of many complete irrelevancies to his work. But religion? Highly relevant. His work wasn’t all math and engineering.

            As for Khan, in my opinion, religion was more of an adversity he overcame than anything else, and the mention it gets is suitably slight. But if you want to get all offended and start calling everything bullshit because of it, well I guess you’re welcome to it. From where I sit, that looks no different than the antics of those “political-correctness-activism” people that appear to bother you so much. It’s your windmill, have at it.

          5. Perhaps you know less about Da Vinci than you should? The *cultural aspects* of the religions of his time (all of them) were a barrier to his work. Perhaps you are thinking of Michelangelo? Well he did do a lot of religious commissions, because that was the only source of money and power in his world. However he was still able to get his message across, if ever so subtly.

  4. clikbait, flames and argument, religion and politics
    please for the love of electronics and now other( hack, err.. posts/) topics, please leave these out. Not doing any good .you will get clicks now but you will lose readers later.

    This was an engineering feat, nonetheless, but could have dropped the religion and political aspect of it.

  5. screw up all the comments you want. Please, for the love of engineering, leave politics and religion out, or you will see readers leaving.

    An amazing engineering task, but please!!!

      1. Thanks for your comment B,
        yes, if the Klick-Bait continues to increase, you wont wont be seeing me here in future!!
        Thanks to Hackaday for all the informative posts all the years!!! :) {thumbsup}

  6. This article is pure Political Correctness run amok. Who cares if this accomplished man is a Muslim or not? Do you think you would see an article like this emphasizing this man’s religion if he were Chistian? Of course you wouldn’t. So why did HaD emphasize the fact that this man is Muslim? Shame on you HaD. The person who authored this article and the editor that it allowed it to be posted should both be called on the carpet and reprimanded!

  7. “The notion of building a tower to the heavens is as old as Genesis, but it took some brash 19th century Americans to develop that fanciful idea into tangible, profitable buildings.” What was the Tower of Babble if it wasn’t a sky scraper?

  8. Nice article. Funny how a person’s originally complex identity is flattened into a one dimensional simplistic label once they enter the US. You could be a man or woman from country W, city X, religion Y, ethnic group Z , but the moment you become an american you are flattened into a religion or color to suite the politics of the day. It does not matter that “Muslims” come from over 40 countries and speak dozens of different languages and belong to non related ethnic groups. It does not matter that Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, Thi, etc come from countries that are culturally and linguistically diverse but they are reduced to “Asians” in US. Same for Europeans and Africans.

  9. Great article, much appreciated. As a Bangladeshi I am proud of his achievements. I always felt the enormity of his works was never appreciated fully by the world at large. Hope articles like this will bring the great man’s memory back to the world.

  10. Everyone who reads this article should get inspired by the great developments of designing and innovations of High rise buildings. Fazlur Rahman Khan was definitely a great Engineer and legend in Architecture and Structural design. No point of attacking a religion by the title! Though the original title that seems from the URL is sort of “fazlur-khan-americas-master-builder”, and someone has shared the post with a title “How a Muslim Immigrant from Bangladesh Became America’s Master Builder”. So what’s problem? It’s his expression of sharing something great from a great man may be of his religion! That all!

    1. You sir are a troll or a fool, everyone is born creative, it is just that some people have been trained to use science and technology to express their creativity more effectively and have the budgets to construct artefacts that are enduring.

    1. Why you racist bastard are you suggesting that Amerindian people’s are useless and contributed nothing? Perhaps rather than migrant you should use the term post Columbian invader? Or are you being “smart” and pointing out that noting that a person was a migrant is redundant as all humans migrated out of the rift valley in Africa?

      1. Nah at the time America was founded the natives weren’t calling themselves native-american OR amerindian… So I chose not to focus on them. The point, even more long running which you pointed out, we’re all immigrants. I feel like the people making a big deal of such headlines are the ones most upset by saying we’re all intelligent important beings… Or something else new-agey that these folks would be upset at thinking.

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