I told him it is, adding that he needn’t worry about missing his stop, Union Station.
“Excuse me; is this the right track for the train going downtown?” an older man asked Tuesday, as we stood waiting in the Northbrook Metra station.
“The train will empty out,” I said. "Everyone will get off."
The man explained he had not been downtown in a long time, since he is retired. I asked what he did when he was working. He said he was an engineer; he did architectural drawings on the first 40 floors of the John Hancock Center.
I asked him what was it like to work for Fazlur Khan, the great structural engineer who, along with architect Bruce Graham, conceived the building in the 1960s. Those Xs on the outside of the Hancock aren’t just cool-looking — they provide structural support, freeing up floor space. It made very tall buildings economically viable for the first time.
“He was wonderful,” the man said, proceeding to tell a story about the large technical drawings they’d produce.
“The paper was thin, and there was only so many times you could erase it,” he said. An architect arrived with a mass of changes, and the man despaired at fitting them all on the existing drawings.
The train arrived. I entered first, took the double seat at the front of the car, and gestured him into the seat across from me.
The man told how he presented the situation to Khan.
“Whenever you bring someone a problem, you should also bring a solution,” he said, excellent general work advice.
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