To confront climate change, we must consider sustainability in a holistic way. SOM is committed to developing innovative approaches to sustainable design—not just to meet standards, but to redefine them. As a collective of architects, engineers, designers, and planners, we're working to shape a better future.
SOM staff share insight on the Kinematic Sculpture, a double-curved structure made of hinged and stiffened wood panels. Also referred to as the Pavilion, the sculpture was designed, tested, and manufactured by SOM engineers and architects in our Chicago office.
One of the largest transit redevelopment projects in the United States, Denver Union Station has become a symbol of revitalization in the city's Lower Downtown district. In this video, SOM returns to the project to see how its innovative design has impacted the life, work, leisure, and travel of locals and visitors alike.
The Chinatown Branch of Chicago's public library system has been hailed as the heart of its community. In this video, SOM revisits the building to see how this civic space has served the diverse educational and social needs of its patrons.
The New School's University Center in Greenwich Village was designed to reflect the bold and creative spirit of its educational mission. In this video, SOM returns to the project to see how this innovative building has impacted the learning experience for students and faculty.
In 2015, the BBVA Bancomer Operations Center opened in Mexico City. Three years after its completion, SOM revisits the office building to see how everyday users interact with this innovative and sustainable "vertical city."
In a competition to design a new Global Terminal at O’Hare International Airport, a team led by SOM with Ross Barney Architects and Arup was announced as one of five finalists. In this video, our Chicago-based design team shares their vision for the new terminal—a bold, honest, and timeless work of architecture designed in the Chicago tradition.
What makes an airport great? Find out in this short tour of our projects around the world—from Chhatrapati Shivaji in Mumbai and Changi in Singapore, to San Francisco International and Toronto Pearson.
Inspired by the release of The Future of Public Space, the second SOM Thinkers publication, SOM curated a series of panel discussions in various cities in 2018. Architects, urban planners, artists, designers, journalists, and activists took part in The Future of Public Space event series.
On August 16th, 2018, SOM and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles hosted a panel discussion. Titled "Art + Engineering + Architecture," the event was part of the programming for the "Poetic Structure" exhibition on view at the MAK Center.
During the summer of 2018, SOM and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles presented a special exhibition titled "Poetic Structure: Art + Engineering + Architecture." In a series of videos, SOM and MAK Center employees share insight on the creation of the exhibition.
To celebrate cutting-edge digital visualization tools—and the world-famous German festival—SOM's Chicago office organized an Oktoberfest event in 2017. Ten teams throughout the office, including sustainable design, urban design, and interiors, came together to demonstrate their latest work.
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. SOM's vision implements infrastructure focused on ecology, a healthier river, and the creation of a destination for Chicago residents and visitors alike.
On October 12th, 2017, Mana Contemporary Chicago and SOM hosted a panel discussion on the poetry of structural design. Presented in partnership with Ace Hotel Chicago, the panel coincided with "SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture]," an exhibition produced by Mana Contemporary Chicago in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
SOM’s City Design Practice has partnered with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office to develop a pilot project for equitable economic development in South L.A. This video is intended to launch a broad conversation about how South L.A. has historically been perceived, what it is now, and what it wants to be in the future.
RegenCities is a research initiative led by SOM’s City Design Practice that seeks to define the regenerative city—a concept of urban development built on a restorative relationship with the environment. This video series introduces the RegenCities initiative and explores two of its major themes: Access and Equity.
In 2009, SOM’s City Design Practice developed a 100-year vision for the Great Lakes. Engaging scientists, public officials, and other thought leaders, the pro-bono initiative outlines measures to protect the lakes and promote sustainable development in the region. This video series shares the stories of the diverse group of experts that contributed to the project.
SOM Partners William F. Baker and Mark Sarkisian spoke at the Utzon Center on October 13th, 2016 to mark the opening of the exhibition "Sky's the Limit: The Engineering of Architecture." They presented SOM’s integrated design approach and how it has spurred innovation throughout the firm's history.
In September, 2016, Structural and Civil Engineering Partner William F. Baker participated in a roundtable discussion at the Royal Academy of Engineering. Hosted by the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, Baker discussed the challenges of engineering one of the world's largest structures, the Burj Khalifa.
New results from SOM's Timber Tower Research Project indicate that a timber-concrete composite system can satisfy code requirements and compete with traditional construction methods. This paves the way for high-rise buildings to utilize mass timber as the main structural material, significantly reducing their environmental impact.
Research requires partners from an array of disciplines, each bringing different skills, technologies, cultures, and ways of thinking to create change. This video explores three SOM projects that demonstrate the power of multi-sector collaborations, and their ability to transform the architectural marketplace.
In November 2015, SOM's Scott Duncan presented the firm's landmark tower for the Guiyang World Trade Center development at the 14th Annual Best Tall Building Awards Symposium. The 380-meter-tall skyscraper demonstrates the relevance of the concrete tube structure in the era of the glass-and-steel tower.
In November 2015, SOM's Kenneth A. Lewis presented One World Trade Center at the 14th Annual Best Tall Building Awards Symposium, which was hosted by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Chicago. One World Trade Center won Best Tall Building in the Americas category.
Cities around the world are expanding rapidly, including London, which will grow by more than 1.5 million residents in just 15 years. Kent Jackson, SOM Design Director, presented SOM's ideas for a flexible, livable, and sustainable solution to this housing crisis at a TEDx event on December 19th, 2015.
SOM Design Partner Roger Duffy lectured at the University of Toronto's John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design on January 26th, 2016. Offering an in-depth look at recent projects, Duffy elaborated on the role of creative research and experimentation at the heart of SOM's practice.
In a January 2016 lecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture, SOM Structural and Civil Engineering Partner William F. Baker discussed his unique and collaborative process, defining his work as a poetic response to an architectural challenge.
The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy demonstration project (AMIE) “changes the way we think about generating, storing, and using electrical power.” Comprising a 3D-printed enclosure and a vehicle, the high performance building produces and stores renewable power that is shared with the hybrid plug-in car.
Guohua Financial Tower, a 45-story office high-rise and adjacent four-story mixed-use podium, is set to rise in Ningbo, China. As a model of simplicity, sustainability, and urban connectivity, the complex propels the evolution of a dynamic central business district in the port city.
Pertamina Energy Tower is the world's first supertall building whose design is entirely driven by energy optimization. In turn, when it is completed in 2021, the 99-story Jakarta, Indonesia, landmark will generate as much energy as it consumes. This new animation by SOM reveals the design process behind the accomplishment.
This animation, created by SOM’s computational design team, tracks the gradual growth of the city of Chicago from 1936 to 2014, highlighting SOM’s contributions along the way.
A new destination in the center of Shenzhen, the Shen Ye Upperhills complex will feature two landmark towers, a ballroom pavilion, and a large elevated pedestrian park. In these two videos, SOM leaders discuss their inspiration for the expansive project.
As part of its Skyline Stories video series, the Chicago Architecture Foundation highlights Willis Tower as a seminal skyscraper that helped transform supertall building design.
As part of its Skyline Stories video series, the Chicago Architecture Foundation highlights the Inland Steel Building, one of modern architecture’s most epochal structures.
The Inland Steel Building changed the way towers are constructed and helped transform American office culture. This video from the Chicago Architecture Foundation explores how the column-free space allowed for maximum office flexibility.
Benton Johnson, SOM Associate, speaks about the firm's Timber Tower Research Project in a video from reThink Wood. Through this effort, SOM created a structural system for tall buildings that uses mass timber as the main structural material and minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the building.
In the spring of 2013, SOM's City Design Practice led an advanced studio at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Called "Rebuilding a Boulevard," the course explored the issues and opportunities for the Garfield Boulevard corridor in Chicago.
In the 1980s, SOM restored the historic Charnley-Persky House to its original design, created by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. Today, the exquisite building serves as the headquarters for the Society of Architectural Historians.
This four-part video series explores the "Waterline" studio course led by SOM Partner Philip Enquist in 2011 at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. During the course, students in architecture, urban design, urban planning, and landscape architecture confronted the underutilized and under-appreciated South Branch of the Chicago River.
A new fly-through of the JTI Building is a journey through both space and time. As the animation circles the project site, it reveals the evolution of the headquarters — from a simple triangular-plan building to the bracing mountain-like form that is currently under construction.
To protect cities along the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries from rising sea levels, storm surges, and high tides, SOM designed The BayArc, a minimal, lightweight, and environmentally sensitive system.