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100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago: a

case study of the design process

Autor(en): Kahn, Fazlur R.

Objekttyp: Article

Zeitschrift: IABSE journal = Journal AIPC = IVBH Journal

Band (Jahr): 6 (1982)

Heft J-16: 100-story John Hancock Center in Chicago: a case study of the
design process

PDF erstellt am: 14.04.2017

Persistenter Link: http://doi.org/10.5169/seals-26292

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IABSE PERIODICA 3/1982 IABSE JOURNAL J-16/82 27

100-Story John Hancock Center in Chicago


A Case Study of the Design Process

Le Centre John Hancock, 100 etages, Chicago


Un cas pratique du Processus de projet

Das John Hancock Center mit 100 Stockwerken in Chicago


Eine Fallstudie ber den Entwurfsprozess

Fazlur R. KHAN Born in Dacca, Bang


ladesh, Dr. Khan (1930-
t
March 27, 1982
1982) received his Ba
Former Partner of chelor of Engineering
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill degree from the Uni
Chicago, IL, USA versity of Dacca. He
studied at the Univer
sity of Illinois, Cham-
paign-Urbana, where he
earned Master and Doctor
of Structural Engineering
degrees. In 1955, Dr.
Khan joined the firm of
Skidmore, Owings &
Merrill and was made a
general partner in Charge
of structural engineering
in 1970.

SUMMARY
This paper is a continuation of the discussion about the interaction between architect and
structural engineer which was initiated by two contributions in the last Journal J-15/82. The
author, late Dr. Fazlur R. Khan, describes his positive experience with an early and close col
laboration between architect and engineer during the design process and its fruitful influences
on the architectural and structural characteristics of a high-rise building.

RESUME
Cet article fait suite la discussion sur la collaboration entre l'architecte et l'ingenieur civil,
qui a ete introduite par deux contributions dans le dernier Journal J-15/82. L'auteur, feu
Dr. Fazlur R. Khan, decrit ses experiences positives d'une collaboration etroite et continue
entre l'architecte et l'ingenieur des le debut du projet. II souligne les influences positives de
cette collaboration sur les caracteristiques architecturales et structurales d'un btiment de
100 etages.

ZUSAMMENFASSUNG
Dieser Beitrag ist als Fortsetzung der Diskussion ber die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Architekt
und Ingenieur gedacht, die in der letzten Ausgabe des Journals J-15/82 eingeleitet wurde. Der
Verfasser, der verstorbene Dr. Fazlur R. Khan, schildert in diesem Artikel seine positiven Er
fahrungen mit einer frhzeitigen und intensiven Zusammenarbeit zwischen Architekt und In
genieur beim Entwurf eines 100stckigen Hochhauses.
28 IABSE JOURNAL J-16/82 IABSE PERIODICA 3/1982

1. INTRODUCTION

The design process of any major building, in order to produce a successful re


sult, must be multi-disciplinary in nature. The idea of the architect drawing
up a nice sketch representing his Vision of a building may have some possible
validity for a minor structure such as a residential building or for a small
commercial project, but would result in an utter architectural disaster for any
major building requiring complex interaction between various planning, environ
mental, structural and functional disciplines.-The 100 story John Hancock Center
in Chicago (Figure 1) is certainly a good example of such a complex multi-use
project. In looking back fifteen years one can now objectively discuss and elab-
orate on the various aspects and nuances of the design process of this major
building which in fact could not be done as openly at the time of the actual
designing of the building.

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Fig. 1 100 story John Hancock Center in Chicago


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30 IABSE JOURNAL J-16/82 iabse periodica 3/1982 %

In discussing with architect Bruce Graham, an exciting possibility became


apparent. If the commercial, parking, office and apartment could be all put to
gether in one building, then the large percentage of the site could be left
open for ground level use by the public. The impact of the project at the ground
level would be much less overpowering and in fact, would contribute to more
human interaction so lacking in many of the recent projects. In spite of initial
concern about large structural diagonal members crossing through Windows in the
office, commercial and apartment, the design team was finally convinced that
the structural-architectural interaction could be taken to fll advantage by
creating an architectural expression of strength and elegance evoking the spirit
of the rational Chicago School of Architecture.

2. BUILDING SHAPE

An efficient floor plan of a commercial or office building should be large, in


the order of 25,000 square feet or more, whereas an efficient apartment building
floor plan generally should be much smaller. More significantly, an office floor
plan needs a lease-span of more than forty feet which means the width of the
building can be more than 160 feet. An apartment floor plan on the other hand,
cannot effectively use a large distance between the core and exterior wall
(lease-span) simply because every apartment room is expected to have an exterior
view and direct open exterior Ventilation. Because of this reason, if
there were
no structural constraints, the Volumetrie form of the building would have been
a wide office building that narrows down at the upper floors to a width accept
able for an apartment building. This means that while an office building could
be wider than 150 feet at the base, an apartment building connot be planned with
that width, but can have a realistic maximum width of perhaps not more than 125
feet. Schematically this would create an elevation showing stepping off where
the apartment floors begin at the upper floors. But the structural system of the
trussed tube structure requires a continuity of the four exterior walls through
out the height of the building (Figure 3). This structural requirement initiated
a number of studies of the building slowly tapering upwards so that at the first
apartment floor level the building width is reduced to an acceptable dimension
for efficient apartment layout. Dozens of such shapes were studied with the help
of a Computer program which defined the exterior geometry in each case and com
puted the individual floor areas as well as the total floor area in the building
to match the program requirements. The final shape selected had the base dimen
sion of 160 feet by 260 feet tapering upwards to 100 feet by 160 feet at the top
floor level. This double tapered truncated pyramid shape was a Joint structural-
architectural desicison satisfying both structural efficiency as well as archi
tectural aesthetics of the form. The structural-architectural interaction in
devising the form and shape of the building is another example of the close
working relationship between the architect and engineer as a team rather than
a preconceived design by an architect where the engineer has to simply solve the
problem given to him.

In the beginning of the project the most important consideration for accepting
this diagonally braced truss tube was its efficiency and economy. It had to meet
a budget originally established to reflect the competitive traditional construc
tion Systems for the traditional two-tower Solution. Fortunately on the basis of
previous experience gained with Mike Sasaki's thesis, the author could realis-
tically commit to a maximum of 30 pounds of structural steel per square foot for
this 100 story building. Normally, a 30 pound per square foot budget would be set
for a traditional frame building of only 30 to 40 stories. It is this attraction
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34 IABSE JOURNAL J-16/82 iabse periodica 3/1982 V
3. STRUCTURAL DETAILS

A structural-architectural concept means that a structural engineering system


has its possibilities and strengths in being expressed as an architectural
statement, but it also means that the structural details must be developed in
close Cooperation with the architectural team so that the meaning of every Joint
and intersection be well represented and expressed in the exterior architecture
form. In the John Hancock Center a great deal of effort was spent by
the author working very closely with the architectural team to develop the
architectural details of cladding and window walls so that the structure was
expressed in as close in proportion to the real steel shapes and forms as
possible. The major intersections of the diagonals, the horizontal ties and the
vertical members were also developed in such a way that the structural form and
its function were expresse accentuating the concept itself (Figure 5). One of
the important examples is the cladding material itself. For a major structural
system in steel such as the truss tube concept, it would be philosophically
wrong to develop a cladding detail with stone or masonry. Not only would such
cladding (enclosure) of the steel members distort their original proportions,
but philosophically it
would Start giving the impression that the structure it
self has a nonmetallic character. Here again considerable discussions were held
and resulted finally in the cladding detail with anodyzed black aluminium which
reflected the metallic character of the structure itself as well as retained
closely the overall proportions of the structural members. In the author's
opinion, the structural engineer cannot over look this Visual interest in his
structure. Working closely with the architectural team the structural engineer
can indeed help developing Visual proportions of the building that reflect more
closely the real structure hidden behind the fireproofing and the cladding.

4. CONCLUSION

The process of design for major architectural projects often does not take ad
vantage of team effort, of all disciplines working together to create the most
relevant engineering architectural Solution. A-priori architectural facades un-
related to natural and efficient structural Systems are not only a wastage of
natural resources but will also have difficulty in standing the test of time.
The author, in this particular case, has attempted to highlight the structural-
architectural team interaction which has resulted in a significant architectural
statement based on reason and the laws of nature in such a way that the re
sulting aesthetics may have a transcendental value and quality far beyond arbi
trary forms and expressions that reflect the fashion of the time. Through the
case study, the opportunity and responsibility of the engineer to actively
participate in the architectural evolution of a building is demonstrated. It is
hoped that engineers will not abrogate this sense of responsibility in the face
of architectural movement of today commonly referred to as post-modernism.