SOM Expands Global Leadership With Eight Design Experts Poised to Shape the Industry’s Future


Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) welcomes eight new Principals to its global leadership with decades of collective expertise in design, technology, applied research, sustainability, and beyond. Working across a diverse range of typologies, geographies and disciplines–from biophilic design to adaptive reuse, decarbonization to innovations in fabrication and construction–these new leaders are already driving the industry forward.

Ece Calguner Erzan believes that interior design is the act of creating a holistic experience – one that brings the look and feel of the exterior of a building, at the city scale, to the interiors. This perspective guides her work as a Principal and lead interior designer for SOM’s New York studio. She approaches her work with the conviction that the big picture is just as important as the smallest detail, and with a passion for the people who will inhabit the spaces she designs. She recognizes that interior spaces, where we spend most of our time, should bring us together and enhance our ability to live, learn, and perform at our best.

Ryan Culligan’s approach to design is rooted in collaboration, interdisciplinary applied research and careful consideration of place, context, history and climate. His project work is expressive, driven by conceptual clarity and inspired by the natural world. He specializes in healthy, ecologically sensitive, large-scale mixed-use projects in the United States and around the world. As a Design Principal and leader in SOM’s Chicago studio, Ryan is committed to elevating the culture of design and discourse among his teams, and building collaborative ties between SOM and the design and academic communities.

Lucy Ling, a Managing Principal based in SOM’s San Francisco studio, has broad expertise managing large-scale urban planning and architectural design work across a range of typologies: from commercial and residential, to interior design of boutique retail spaces. As a leader of SOM’s China Practice, Lucy is well-versed in marrying design ideas with her clients’ aspirations, to realize work that honors its context and enhances the public realm. With a profound understanding of both the architect and urban planner’s vision, and her client’s goals, Lucy is adept at bringing ambitious project visions to life.

Vram Malek, a Managing Principal, leads large-scale, complex projects in New York City and around the world. His work spans a variety of scales and typologies, from mixed-use projects and commercial supertall towers to rail stations, civic and government buildings, and residential design. Vram seeks to create work that respects and enhances its urban context, building vibrant new destinations that embrace culture and history, while demonstrating a forward-thinking approach to environmental design and wellness. Vram has worked extensively throughout Asia Pacific, having led projects in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Frank Mahan is a Design Principal and leader of SOM’s Adaptive Reuse practice, responsible for leading the design of large-scale, complex projects. In New York, he is helping to reshape some of the city’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods. With a track record for building consensus, he is adept at navigating a wide variety of stakeholders and civic regulatory agencies. Frank is an expert in preservation and adaptive reuse, and approaches his work with the conviction that existing buildings can be part of a global effort to combat climate change. Through adaptive reuse, he believes that architects can reduce embodied carbon while reviving our most cherished cultural landmarks.

Francesca Oliveira is a Technical Design Principal and a champion for sustainability at SOM San Francisco. With a portfolio that ranges from civic buildings to skyscrapers, both in the United States and abroad, she specializes in high performance building enclosures and strategic programming. Francesca seeks creative design solutions that synthesize innovations in the built environment with vernacular architecture while pushing the boundaries of resiliency. She is passionate about and implements strategies aimed at reducing embodied and operational carbon.

Anthony Treu, a Design Principal in New York and leader of SOM’s Healthcare Practice, is driven by the conviction that architecture has the power to fundamentally change the way we experience healthcare. Recognizing that hospitals are often the site of some of life’s most dramatic moments, he believes that the designer should enhance the wellbeing of patients, elevate the clinical workplace of providers, and build inspiring facilities that are integrated with the community. At the core of this work is a drive to simplify the problems that patients and providers experience, and to design elegant solutions that make a profound difference in people’s lives.

Christoph Timm is a Technical Design Principal in New York, where he leads the studio’s Enclosure Group, a practice embedded among SOM’s design and engineering teams that focuses on advancing building enclosures and facades. Christoph has deep expertise in the design and fabrication of high-performance building enclosures, and is particularly interested in how their appearances shift under varying lighting conditions. At SOM, Christoph started a construction site visit program that brings young architects to sites in New York to create a better understanding of the complexities of construction in relation to design. With two decades of creative experience, Christoph has designed a wide variety of projects that expand beyond architecture to encompass products, furniture, and even streetlights.