This fall, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) joins Chicagoans in celebration of the city’s enduring passion for architecture. As the Chicago Architecture Biennial invites city residents and visitors to "Make New History," SOM is proud to partner with the Biennial and leading Chicago-based cultural organizations to explore the intersection between art, architecture, urban planning, and engineering.
SOM is honored to participate in three groundbreaking exhibitions presented in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Mana Contemporary Chicago presents "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]"—an in-depth survey of SOM’s structural engineering practice and the firm’s long tradition of collaboration with visual artists. The exhibition explores the idea that engineers, architects, and artists alike practice a poetry of inquiry, experimentation, and ingenuity. Told through hand-drawn sketches, interactive sculpture, immersive video, drawings, and more than 30 structural models at 1:500 scale, the exhibition highlights collaborations between SOM and artists such as Pablo Picasso, James Turrell, Jaume Plensa, James Carpenter, Janet Echelman, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle.
Additionally, SOM will present ideas in two exhibitions on how to make Chicago a more vibrant place to live: SOM’s City Design Practice showcases ideas for the rejuvenation of the Chicago River alongside eight leading design firms as part of the Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab, presented by the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Council. The City Design Practice will also participate in the Chicago Architecture Foundation's acclaimed project "50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards," presenting an urban design proposal for the 71st Street corridor in Chicago’s 5th Ward.
SOM's Chicago team will also present a season-long program of lectures, panels, and family-friendly events to support the citywide celebration. Visitors to Chicago can explore the city virtually and in person with a map of SOM buildings in the city’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, including interactive displays at a host of publicly accessible buildings in the Loop, Gold Coast, Streeterville, and more.
Read on to learn how you can connect with SOM and Chicago’s rich architectural history during the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, which runs from Saturday, September 16th through Sunday, January 7th.
Explore Chicago in Person and Online
Chicago is home to an unparalleled collection of architectural marvels. From Beaux-Arts to the International Style, the city’s dedication to creating diverse, trailblazing architecture has helped shaped skylines the world over. Founded in Chicago more than 80 years ago, SOM has contributed to Chicago’s place in architectural history, working to realize more than 70 projects of all scales and typologies across the city.
Throughout the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, explore Chicago with SOM and learn more about our work in the city in three ways:
- Walk Chicago’s downtown Loop and surrounding areas with the SOM pocket map, which highlights 30 of our projects. Download the SOM in Chicago pocket map here.
- Visit interactive video displays featuring never-before-seen highlights from the SOM archives at the Inland Steel Building, the Columbus Drive Building at the Art Institute of Chicago, Hartford Plaza North, and the Equitable Building.
- Enter our Chicago Architecture Biennial-themed Instagram contest by posting a photo of an SOM building in Chicago and using the hashtag #SOMinChicago for the chance to win a limited edition prize from SOM. The contest begins on September 20th. Learn more about #SOMinChicago.
SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]
September 10, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Exhibition Hours: Saturdays and Sundays through January 7, 2018
*Exhibition tours also available by appointment.
For more than eight decades, SOM has explored the poetics of structure through continual examination and experimentation. "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]" reveals the concepts and forms that stem from SOM’s integrated practice of engineering, art, and architecture.
Through hand-drawn sketches, interactive sculpture, immersive video, and a lineup of more than 30 structural models, the exhibition gives insight into SOM’s practice, past and present, as it seeks to address physical and environmental challenges with concise and honestly expressed solutions. The exhibition surveys SOM’s long tradition of collaboration with visual artists and showcases models, drawings, and ephemera.
Mana Contemporary Pop-up
345 N. Morgan Street
Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab
September 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Launched in 2017, the Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab was initiated by the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Council. The goal of the initiative was to explore the untapped potential of Chicago’s riverfront. SOM, alongside eight leading design firms with experience in developing innovative riverfronts, parks, and public spaces, was engaged to provide a vision for a unified aesthetic along Chicago’s riverfront.
SOM's vision implements infrastructure focused on ecology, a healthier river, and the creation of a destination for Chicago residents and visitors alike. See our vision.
In addition to SOM, the following firms are participating: Adjaye Associates, James Corner Field Operations, Perkins+Will, Ross Barney Architects, SWA, Sasaki, Site Design Group, and Studio Gang. The design concepts will be shared with the public in an exhibition at Expo 72 Gallery and in a traveling exhibition in conjunction with the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Expo 72 Gallery
72 E. Randolph Street
50 Designers, 50 Ideas, 50 Wards: Between States
September 19, 2017 – January 7, 2018
"Between States" is the latest iteration of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s multi-year 50 Designers/50 Wards investigation, which explores how designers and residents can identify and shape opportunities for growth in Chicago’s 50 neighborhoods. "Between States" challenges 50 Chicago-based design teams to identify a physical asset in one of Chicago’s 50 neighborhoods that could be redesigned or reimagined to create new uses.
The exhibition showcases community-driven ideas to transform elements of the built environment, each drawing inspiration from successful projects realized in cities across the United States. As a part of "Between States" and for the first time to a public audience, SOM's City Design Practice will present a proposal for the 71st Street corridor in Chicago’s 5th Ward.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue
LECTURES AND EVENTS
Artist Talk with Jaume Plensa at Ace Hotel Chicago
Artist Jaume Plensa will be joined by William F. Baker, SOM Structural and Civil Engineering Partner, and Nada Andric, SOM Associate Director of Interior Design, for a discussion on the collaborative process behind the World Voices art installation at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Ace Hotel Chicago
311 N. Morgan Street
RSVP closed. See related events.
Ace Hotel Chicago Panel Discussion: Structure as Poetry
A diverse panel composed of an artist, an academic, a historian, two architects, and two structural engineers will discuss the unique poetry of structural architecture and the intersections of engineering, architecture, design, and history.
Ace Hotel Chicago
311 N. Morgan Street
Dean’s Lecture Series: The Engineering of Architecture
Informed by SOM's 80-year history, William F. Baker, Structural and Civil Engineering Parner, and Mark Sarkisian, Structural and Seismic Engineering Partner, will discuss the firm's design philosophies, current projects, and emerging ideas within structural engineering. The lecture is themed on the exhibition "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]", presented by Mana Contemporary in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, S.R. Crown Hall
3360 South State Street
SOM at 81: Making New History Since 1936
SOM Design Director Eric Keune will discuss SOM's history of work in Chicago, as well as the firm's newest projects in the city and surrounding region. He will also explore how Chicago's architecture and culture has influenced the design of SOM's projects around the world.
Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center
77 E. Randolph Street
Ace Hotel Chicago Panel Discussion: Collaborations in Art + Engineering
A diverse panel of engineers, artists, and architects will discuss how interdisciplinary collaborations can inform new ideas for artwork and architectural projects.
Ace Hotel Chicago
311 N. Morgan Street
Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab: Gallery Talk
As a part of the Chicago River Edge Ideas Lab, SOM urban designers will host a presentation and question and answer session to learn more about our vision for Chicago's river edge.
Expo 72 Gallery
72 E. Randolph Street
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. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, SOM has earned a reputation for design excellence with a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries, and 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 nearly 2,000 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, Dubai, and Mumbai.
About the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial
The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be open to the public and on view from September 16, 2017 to January 7, 2018. Press and professional previews will take place September 14 and 15. The opening of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, which will run September 13-17 at Navy Pier. The hub of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will once again be the Chicago Cultural Center, located in downtown Chicago.
The manifestation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a major international architectural event and an outcome of the comprehensive cultural plan developed by Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events under the leadership of Michelle T. Boone, the inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial was presented through the support of BP, and in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation. Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda, Co-Artistic Directors, curated the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial, entitled "The State of the Art of Architecture."
The Chicago Architecture Biennial’s mission is to provide a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Through its constellation of exhibitions, full-scale installations and programming, the Chicago Architecture Biennial invites the public to engage with and think about architecture in new and unexpected ways, and to take part in a global discussion on the future of the field.