In Memory: Carolina Woo, former SOM Partner

Photo © SOM

Retired SOM Partner Carolina Woo, FAIA, passed away on January 29th, 2021, at the age of 80. During her career at SOM, Woo developed a body of work that has been recognized for its impact and cultural resonance. Woo was respected by her colleagues and was a dedicated mentor to many at SOM.

Carolina Woo was born in Shanghai, China, in March 1940. After graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Master of Business Policy from Columbia University, Woo began her career with SOM in 1969 in New York. A dedicated and passionate project manager, Woo rose through the firm and in 1984 was promoted to partner. She went on to work on projects that would take her to SOM’s offices in London, and later San Francisco, which served as her base while she worked to build the firm’s emerging presence in China. In 1988, she was elevated to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for her notable contributions to the architectural profession. 

While at SOM, Woo worked on projects all over the world, including many of the firm’s most influential projects of the period: the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library & Museum in Austin, Texas, 9 West 57th Street in New York City, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Hajj Terminal at King Abdul Aziz International Airport Terminal, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, master plans for the Shanghai Waterfront in China and Saigon South in Vietnam, and later, the San Francisco Civic Center Complex and the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport

Woo was an active contributor to the communities she called home, having served on the board of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, as a Trustee for her alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design, as an advisor of the Capital Planning Commission for the City of Beijing, and as a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Urban Land Institute. Woo was a passionate advocate for the environment and for sustainable design, and her efforts made a palpable impact in moving the industry forward.

We extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to her family.