Books by Khan's daughter, Yasmin Sabina Khan

Building Blocks: The John Hancock Center. Photographs by Ezra Stoller.
I followed my father into the field of building design when I studied at the university and worked as a structural engineer. Thanks to this background, I have been able to write about his life and work from a unique perspective.

Building Blocks: The John Hancock Center is a small book of photographs of the John Hancock Center in Chicago. My father both initiated a new structural system, the trussed-tube, for this 100 story tower and assumed responsibility for the building’s structural design and construction. My Introduction (the only text in this book) briefly tells the story of my father and architect Bruce Graham's collaboration on this record-setting residential tower.

Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan presents a considerably more detailed story of my father’s life and work. In this book I examine my father’s innovations within the context of his personal beliefs and the social setting of the time in which he practiced. I have tried to convey his personal character and philosophy along with his manner of working with people, because these were important aspects of his design accomplishments.

The opening chapter of Engineering Architecture focuses on my father’s childhood in Bengal. The book then follows his career and looks closely at his most influential work. Projects included are:

  • United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • United Airlines Executive Offices, Elk Grove Village, Illinois
  • Brunswick Building, Chicago
  • Chestnut–DeWitt Apartments, Chicago
  • 100 story John Hancock Center, Chicago
  • Chicago Picasso, Civic Center Plaza, Chicago
  • One Shell Plaza, Houston
  • Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) House, Melbourne
  • First Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee
  • Control Data Corporation (CDC), Houston
  • One Shell Square, New Orleans
  • 1,450 foot Sears Tower, Chicago — the world’s tallest building from its completion in 1974 until 1996
  • Baxter Corporate Headquarters, West Deerfield Township, Illinois
  • Hajj Terminal, King Abdul Aziz International Airport (New Jeddah International Airport), Jeddah
  • Makkah Campus, King Abdul Aziz University, Makkah (designed but not built)
  • Onterie Center, Chicago
  • 2,100 foot Chicago World Trade Center, Chicago (designed but not built)

Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan has received some wonderful reviews, primarily from architecture and engineering journals. Here are a few excerpts:
Engineering Architecture: The Vision of Fazlur R. Khan

“Seldom is the life and work of a design engineer described so abundantly… [V]ery personable story of a driven technician with a deep love of his profession… The book reads like a novel. The accompanying photos of his wife and daughter at numerous construction sites and gatherings adds to the whole story.” —Bouwen met Staal (Netherlands)
“Yasmin Sabina Khan has written an engaging intellectual biography of her father, the acclaimed civil engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan… This lengthy book is rich with ideas relevant to historians of technology… She chose an excellent variety of illustrations… Khan’s carefully researched work contributes substantially to the literature on mid-twentieth century large-scale building.” —Technology and Culture
“Among several eminent Kahns and Khans in the history of American construction, none better deserves a full study than the subject of this book… [C]onstant linkages between engineering, architecture and wider human issues. In both scope and detail [this] study … supplants the only previous book-length study of Khan's work.” —Construction History (United Kingdom)
“Fazlur R. Khan is one of the most influential structural engineers of the 20th century… His daughter … has written an account of his achievements and laced his creative timeline with descriptions of his theories and practices.” —Desert Living
“A great read. Khan's daughter both understands and honors his work, and it would be difficult to find a better book about this master of modern structures.” —Prairie Avenue Bookshop Newsletter (Chicago)
“[A] worthy and delightfully written tribute to a remarkable man.” —Architectural Science Review (Australia)
“[S]he reveals aspects of Khan’s personal character and collaborative spirit… Khan’s book is an inspiration to the engineer as well as the architect.” —Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
“Here is a book that will make you proud to be a part of the design/construction community… [A]n inspiring biography.” —Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities/ASCE
Dr. Khan and Yasmin in the mid-1970s.
“[A] much needed book… The prose reads swiftly, the chapters are well organized, and, most important, the stories they narrate are compelling.” —Journal of Architectural Education
The conclusion of this review is especially meaningful to me, as one can imagine:
“Khan also must have been a human being of extraordinary spiritual depth. He appears as a model of what many would like to be.”

These encouraging book reviews highlight my father's place in Chicago history and his role as a world leader in the design field. I have not yet learned about any reviews in journals or web sites that celebrate the accomplishments of Muslims in America, but I expect that there will be some. This would certainly be appropriate, as well.

As I explain in my Preface to the book, I have attempted to record the significance of my father’s accomplishments while shedding light on the indescribable creative process by exploring how my father defined and worked through his design problems. I am sincerely pleased to know that within his experience readers have discovered not only example but also inspiration.


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I would like to thank Paul and Jeannette at customline.com for turning my vision for a site for my father into reality.