SOM City Design Practice I

SOM excels at building cities. Whether planning a new city, an entire district, or redeveloping an industrial site, SOM focuses on projects that strengthen urban areas and the larger regions in which they exist. Seventy years of experience have taught us many things, but the constant lesson is the near-biological inevitability with which urban centers have reinvigorated, rebuilt, and reinvented themselves — and will continue to do so over time.

A host of challenges and opportunities face the 21st-century city builder. While each urban area is a cohesive system, it is also one node in a comprehensive network of global cities. This fact greatly amplifies all challenges and opportunities. With full awareness of the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of cities, our mission is to design and build urban centers across the earth according to fundamental planning and environmental principles. In anticipation of several critical urban challenges facing planners today and in the immediate future — unprecedented population growth, resource depletion, and attendant quality-of-life issues — we have developed a formidable set of goals.

We are committed to reshaping the urban future according to uncompromising environmental principles. We seek to design cities that possess, as part of their design DNA, a transit-centered density, a thriving, culturally distinctive environment, a secure infrastructure, and sensible settlement patterns that enable sustainable growth. Our planning process supports the development of richly complex, wholly integrated urban environments at all scales — from citywide master plans to detailed streetscapes.

We design and build cities according to a carefully developed set of principles addressing quality of life and quality of place. Quality of place depends on the adoption of flexible planning frameworks that are scalable and adaptable over time, while the incorporation of natural features and smart infrastructure can yield environmentally sound development. Along with environmental sustainability and flexible planning, city builders must understand the human scale of development and contribute to the creation of pedestrian-oriented areas imbued with the vitality that characterizes all great cities.