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4.3 | The Father of Modern Skyscrapers

In Chicago, everyone looks up to the work of Fazlur Rahman Khan, the structural engineer for the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center. Born on this day in 1929 in Bangladesh, Khan came to the United States to study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned two master’s degrees and a PhD. He then joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where his innovative work ushered in a new era of skyscrapers. Next time you’re on Franklin Street adjacent to the Willis Tower, you’ll see that it has the honorary designation of “Fazlur R. Khan Way.” Learn more about Chicago’s architectural history.

The Sears Tower under construction, c. 1972. HB-36150-H2, CHM, Hedrich-Blessing Collection


With more than 1.5 million images and 4 million feet of moving images, the Chicago History Museum’s Prints and Photographs Collection is the single largest source of pictorial information for the Chicago metropolitan area from the early nineteenth century to the present. The Hedrich-Blessing Collection is one of our most frequently requested materials, as it features architectural and design photography from 1928 to 1980.


The Chicago History Museum, a major museum and research center for Chicago and American history, is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. The Museum has dedicated more than a century to celebrating and sharing Chicago stories through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming. The Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents and images to help audiences connect to the city and its history. The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum is a 2016 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given to these institutions for their community engagement and having an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories