Masks required in Abakanowicz Research Center MORE

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 is situated on ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi people, who cared for the land until forced out by non-Native settlers. Established in 1856, the Museum is now at 1601 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park, its third location. As a major museum and research center for Chicago and U.S. history, the Chicago History Museum strives to be a destination for learning, inspiration and civic engagement. Through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming, the Museum connects people to Chicago’s history and to each other. To share Chicago stories, the Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents, images and other items that are relevant to the city’s history. The Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. 

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago Stories