Press Releases

SOM Receives U.S. Presidential Award for Exports

From left: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, SOM Managing Partner Gene Schnair, and SOM Senior Manager Patricia Yeh. Photo © U.S. Department of Commerce

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today presented Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP with the President’s “E” Award for Exports at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The “E” Awards are the highest recognition any U.S. entity may receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

“Exporting design services continues to be a foundation of our global practice, and we are honored to receive the “E” Award,” said SOM Managing Partner Gene Schnair, FAIA. “Since 2009, over 50 percent of SOM’s professional service fees have been derived from exported services. Through our international work, we collaboratively engage with our clients and project stakeholders throughout the design process. SOM employs full-time multilingual staff representing many of the more than 50 countries in the world. This multicultural diversity enables SOM to build strong working relationships and engage with clients abroad, while delivering a level of expertise and innovation that is often not available locally.”

In a congratulatory letter to the firm announcing its selection as an award recipient, Secretary Pritzker stated: “SOM has demonstrated a sustained commitment to export expansion. The “E” Award Committee was very impressed with SOM’s sustained increases in exporting design work, which led to increased employment in the United States. The company’s focus on the importance of communications and its ability to communicate with clients was particularly impressive. SOM’s achievements have undoubtedly contributed to national export expansion efforts that support the U.S. economy and create American jobs."

SOM is the sole architecture firm to receive this honor in almost two decades. Since the founding of the “E” Award program only one other architecture firm has been recognized with this award. SOM’s work abroad has had a lasting and palpable effect on the world — both physically and economically. From creating the highly sustainable Nanhu New Country Village master plan in China to designing the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, SOM has advanced U.S. exports abroad by changing the landscape of what is possible for the built environment, from city design to civic landmarks. Through strategic planning, fostering international business relationships, and expanding into new geographic markets, SOM has had a profound impact on the country's reputation as an exporter of world-class services and products.

U.S. exports of goods and services hit an all-time record of $2.3 trillion in 2013. Nationally, jobs supported by exports reached more than 11 million last year, up 1.6 million since 2009. Launched earlier this month, NEI/Next, a new phase of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, works to boost economic growth and support additional American jobs by assisting more U.S. companies of all sizes in exporting to more markets across the globe.

President Kennedy revived the World War II “E” symbol of excellence to honor and provide recognition to America's exporters. The “E” Award Program was established by Executive Order 10978 on December 5, 1961. Four years of successive export growth and an applicant’s demonstration of an innovative international marketing plan that led to the increase in exports is a significant factor in making the award.

U.S. companies are nominated for the “E” Award for Exports through the Department of Commerce’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service office network, located within the Department’s International Trade Administration, which has offices in 108 U.S. cities and more than 70 countries to help U.S. exporters. A total of 66 U.S. companies were presented with the President’s “E” Award this year.

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, with a 75-year reputation for design excellence and a portfolio that includes some of the most important architectural accomplishments of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since its inception, SOM 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 more than 1,700 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, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi.