Four SOM Projects Win Design Excellence Awards from AIA Chicago

AIA Chicago has honored SOM with four Design Excellence Awards, the most bestowed upon a firm in 2014. The prestigious awards program recognizes exemplary projects by Chicago firms. Jinao Tower was named a Distinguished Building, while conceptual designs for Liansheng Financial Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character & Leadership Development took home top honors in the Unbuilt Design category. An early scheme for Nozul Lusail Marina was awarded an Unbuilt Design Citation of Merit. The winners were announced on October 24 at AIA Chicago’s popular Design Night event.

In Nanjing, China, Jinao Tower represents an evolution of integrated architectural, structural, and mechanical systems. Diagonal braces wrap the tower, defining its striking, faceted form. A double-layer curtain wall responds to the city's extreme heat by acting as a buffer between the outside air and the building's interior. Additional benefits of this facade system include improved MEP performance, increased daylighting, and enhanced comfort for tower occupants. The project also features a retail component and an adjacent residential building, with operable sunshades providing privacy and minimizing solar gain.

The Liansheng Financial Center, proposed for Taiyuan, China, comprises two interconnected towers, one of which rises 668 meters at its peak. Sky bridges are strategically located to optimize structural integrity. Each glass-clad tower offers 2,000 square meters of leasable space per floor. By breaking up the building's mass into two slender forms, SOM was able to improve energy usage, natural daylight penetration, and structural and mechanical system efficiencies.

The design for the Center for Character & Leadership Development embodies the values of the U.S. Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This scheme is one of three by SOM that were submitted to the Air Force for review (here is the concept that was selected and is currently being built). The design bestowed with an AIA Chicago Award features an open "Forum" space that encourages cadets to pursue and debate the principles of integrity, leadership, and service. Overlooking this space is a ring of classrooms that can serve as a viewing area. The Honor Court, located at the top of the building, contains a tension rod skylight system that enables light to infuse the Court and provides a connection between earth and sky. The building’s circular geometry contrasts and dialogues with the nearby Cadet Chapel, designed by SOM and completed in 1963.

The 23-story Nozul Lusail Marina sits directly adjacent to the Persian Gulf, north of Doha, Qatar. The mixed-use tower features deeply recessed and shaded terraces that offer breathtaking views and reduce the building’s cooling loads. Exterior screens made of glass fiber reinforced concrete further reduce energy usage. The tower's atrium acts as a natural ventilation device by drawing hot air up and out of the building. Moreover, it pulls in light and fresh air, creating a pleasant interior environment that complements the tower's distinctive form.