William F. Baker (engineer)

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William F. Baker
William F Baker engineer SOM.jpg
Born 1953
Fulton, Missouri, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, University of Missouri, Master of Science in Civil Engineering, University of Illinois
Occupation Engineer
Engineering career
Discipline Structural engineer and civil engineer
Practice name Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Projects Burj Khalifa, Trump International Hotel and Tower, Cayan Tower
Significant design Burj Khalifa
Awards International Fellow RAE, IStructE Gold Medal, Fritz Leonhardt Prize, Fazlur Kahn Lifetime Achievement Medal, 2011 OPAL Lifetime Achievement Award for Design

William Frazier Baker, also known as Bill Baker (born October 9, 1953), is an American structural engineer known for engineering the Burj Khalifa,[1] the world's tallest building/man-made structure. He is currently a structural engineering partner in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM).


After obtaining a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri, Baker held a brief tenure with ExxonMobil and later completed his master's degree at the University of Illinois. In 1981 he joined the architecture and engineering firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, LLP (SOM) in Chicago and eventually became a partner there in 1996.

While widely regarded for his work on supertall buildings, Baker's expertise also extends to a wide variety of structures like the Broadgate-Exchange House (London, 1990) and the GM Renaissance Center Entry Pavilion (Detroit, 2005). He is further known for his work on long-span roof structures, such as the McCormick Place North Building Expansion (Chicago, 1986), the Korean Air Lines Operations Center (Seoul, 1995), the Korea World Trade Center Expansion (Seoul, 2000), and the Virginia Beach Convention Center (Virginia Beach, 2007).

Baker's career has also been marked by various collaborations with artists such as Jamie Carpenter (Raspberry Island-Schubert Club Band Shell, 2002), Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle (Gravity is a Force to be Reckoned With, 2010), Jaume Plensa (World Voices, 2010), and James Turrell (Roden Crater).

Baker's many skyscraper projects include the AT&T Corporate Center (Chicago, 1989), Trump International Hotel and Tower (Chicago, 2008), Cayan Tower (Dubai, 2009), Pearl River Tower (Guangzhou, 2009), Nanjing Greenland Financial Center (Nanjing, 2009), and the unbuilt 7 South Dearborn (Chicago, 2003), although he is best known as the engineer of Burj Khalifa (Dubai, 2009), the world's tallest man-made structure. To support the tower's record heights, he developed the "buttressed core"[2] structural system, consisting of a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses that form a Y shape. This innovative system allows the structure to support itself both laterally and torsionally. It also eliminates the need for column transfers, and moves loads in a smooth path from the tower's spire into its foundations.

Baker is a Fellow of both the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and frequently lectures on a variety of structural engineering topics within the US and abroad. Baker was elected as an International Fellow to the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) in September 2014.[3]


In 2013, Bill Baker received the T.R. Higgins Lectureship Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Stuttgart[4] and an ASCE Outstanding Projects and Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Award for Design.[5] On May 13, 2010, The Institution of Structural Engineers awarded Baker with their Gold Medal, the Institution's highest accolade.[6] Baker was the first American to be awarded the Fritz Leonhardt Prize For Achievement in Structural Engineering, on July 11, 2009.[7] On November 20, 2008, he received the Fazlur Khan Lifetime Achievement Medal from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.[8]

Baker received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2012.[9]

Key projects[edit]

General Motors Renaissance Center – North Lobby, Detroit, Michigan
Broadgate – Exchange House, London, United Kingdom


Professional associations[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]