Fazlur Khan realized his talents as a structural engineer by working as a partner in design, defining the architectural/structural schemes for building projects together with his architectural colleagues. His personal appreciation of the disparate design priorities of function (usefulness for its purpose), structure (economy and efficient use of materials), and aesthetics (satisfaction of an emotional need for meaning and visual interest) enabled him to assume an influential role in the creative process of designing architecture.
The language of mathematics and rational engineering, Khan maintained, could not give form to architecture of substantive quality on its own, no more than could ungrounded aesthetic inclination. Rather, by conjoining creative energies and different perspectives, better innovative and responsive design solutions could be developed than either architect or engineer might conceive in isolation. His own experience confirmed that openness of mind and dialogue between disciplines stimulate individual inspiration and creative conceptualization. The grace and articulate form of Chicago’s John Hancock Center, for example, was integral with a new and exceptionally efficient structural system; the versatile architectural vocabulary promised by the Sears Towers’ bundled tube scheme was derived from the search for logical and efficient structural organizaton.
This is precisely why John Hancock Center is my favorite building of all. :)