Building on the Legacy of Technological and Architectural Innovation
Since its founding in 1936, SOM has pushed the idea that architectural production thrives on collaboration. The firm has formed alliances among practitioners of varied expertise, leveraging the creative energy of these interactions to stay the forefront of the industry. Over the decades, these moments of synchrony have yielded prolific results, from the development of the glass curtain wall, the structural tube, and computer-aided design, to iconic built works such as the Lever House in New York City, the Sears Tower and Hancock Center in Chicago, and the Hajj Terminal at King Abdulaziz International Airport. Building on this more than 80-year legacy of innovation, SOM continues to set industry standards and shape the 21st-century cityscape.
In this article published in "The Changing Shape of Architecture: Further Cases of Integrating Research and Design in Practice" (Routledge, 2019), Neil Katz and Daniel Cashen evaluate the history of the firm and its more recent work in the context of technological advancements and social collaborations. They describe the evolution of digital design at SOM, how technological advances and new workflows have allowed project teams to produce innovative results, and the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning to change the profession.