Distinguished Alumni Awards

William F. Baker Jr.

William F. Baker Jr.
To William F. Baker Jr., for his leadership in the development of innovative structural systems for high-rise buildings, both nationally and internationally including the world￿s tallest building.

Partner-in-Charge, Structural and Civil Engineering, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago, IL

  • BS, 1975, Civil Engineering, University of Missouri￿Columbia
  • MS, 1980, Civil Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

William F. Baker Jr. stands high among the elite group of the most accomplished and visible structural engineers worldwide. Completion last year of the world’s tallest building—the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—added to Baker’s already stellar reputation as one of the modern era’s most innovative structural engineers. He arrived at the University of Illinois in fall 1979 as a graduate student with both a vision and a mission. Later, having excelled in his graduate work, he joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago. To date, Baker has participated in 62 domestic and 66 international building projects. In addition to his work in connection with the Burj Khalifa, he has served as a structural engineer for the building of Trump International Hotel and Towers in Chicago, Infinity Tower in Dubai, and NATO headquarters in Brussels. These projects, and his dissemination of the knowledge about them, have led to revolutionary improvements in the design and construction of buildings throughout the world.

Baker thrives on the collaborative processes that integrate aesthetics, buildability, safety, form, and function. Beyond his talents as a brilliant theoretician, he leads the development of creative structural systems, from super-tall buildings to smaller structures, often in collaboration with renowned artists. He contributes regularly to structural engineering literature and has published more than 50 articles describing his projects and highlighting both theoretical and applied research focused on optimization, wind effects, and stability.

An active supporter of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Illinois, Baker has a passion for education and actively engages with students and faculty to share his knowledge and to promote the engineering profession. He established the Baker Structural Engineering Fund to support a faculty scholar in that field.

Current as of 2011