Press Releases

Gunnar Hand Joins SOM’s Growing Los Angeles Office

Photo © SOM

Los Angeles, CA: Gunnar Hand has joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), as an Urban Designer in SOM’s Los Angeles office. His hire expands SOM’s firmwide City Design Practice, which has developed award-winning, holistic urban design solutions and plans for clients around the world. The addition of a City Design Practice studio in Los Angeles illustrates SOM’s commitment to the region. Led by Directors Paul Danna, Michael Mann, and José Luis Palacios, SOM’s Los Angeles office has grown from three people to more than 60 employees in three years and will see its first projects reach completion over the next year. In Los Angeles, this includes the creative office space renovation of The Desmond in South Park, the New United States Courthouse in Civic Center, and the Sunset La Cienega hotel and residential development in West Hollywood.

Known for his deep commitment to the communities he calls home, Gunnar Hand is a city and regional planner, as well as a community organizer. He has established himself as a leading practitioner in the field, and was recently recognized as one of the top urban innovators under the age of 40 when he was named a member of the 2015 Vanguard by the international nonprofit media organization Next City.

Hand is returning to Los Angeles, where he lived, worked, and volunteered from 2006 to 2011. He was previously a Senior Regional Planner at the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, where he notably kickstarted and developed the initial drafts of the Los Angeles County General Plan update that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in April. Hand was the founding Executive Director of the transit advocacy nonprofit railLA, and also held numerous volunteer posts: serving as a Board Member of the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council, founding and cochairing the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council Planning and Beautification Committee, and helping the American Planning Association, Los Angeles Section.

For the past four years, Hand was in Kansas City, Missouri, where he worked for BNIM, leading the city’s expansion plan for NextRail KC, the downtown streetcar starter line, and developing the design guidelines for the citywide Transit-Oriented Development Plan. He helped launch several nonprofits, including the South Kansas City Alliance, and spearheaded the collaboration between the Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance and the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects that resulted in Transform KC, a rail-based transit advocacy group that developed a traveling exhibition and community outreach program. Hand also served on the boards of the Kansas City Public Schools, Metropolitan Energy Center, and Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance. 

About the City Design Practice

Led by Chicago-based Partner Philip Enquist, SOM’s firmwide City Design Practice is an integrated global practice that is distinguished by its holistic, multidisciplinary approach, its focus on creative thinking and problem solving, and its commitment to achieving a more urban world that has a more balanced relationship between our built environment and our natural systems. The practice’s studios assist public sector clients, communities, and private sector development groups in some of the world’s most complex and challenging urban problems through design, communication, collaboration, and built solutions. The City Design Practice’s master plans and other urban designs have been honored by the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Architects, the Urban Land Institute, both national and local Chinese Urban and Rural Planning Design Awards, and many other reputable organizations.

About Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the leading architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes and innovative ideas, many of which have had a palpable and lasting impact on the design profession and the physical environment. The firm’s longstanding leadership in design and building technology has been honored with more than 1,700 awards for quality, innovation, and management. The American Institute of Architects has recognized SOM twice with its highest honor, the Architecture Firm Award — in 1962 and again in 1996. The firm maintains offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.