Stewart Hicks Explores the Impact of Wind on Skyscraper Design

Stewart Hicks interviews Scott Duncan for his video titled "Chicago’s Newest Towers Are Invisible to Wind."

Stewart Hicks, an associate dean, professor, and host of the YouTube channel “Stewart Hicks Takes on Buildings and Cities,” recently visited SOM’s Chicago studio to discuss how wind influences the design of tall buildings.

According to Hicks, 20 percent of a skyscraper’s overall cost is dedicated to combating wind forces. His visit featured expert insights from SOM’s Scott Duncan, Ryan Culligan, and Brad Young, who discussed using the firm’s wind tunnel to analyze design strategies. “Tools like wind tunnels, coupled with nuanced strategies for how buildings can work with nature instead of against it, will allow us to conceive and create towers that are more resilient in the end,” says Hicks.

To illustrate, the team examined SOM’s project with Related Midwest, 400 Lake Shore, currently under construction. Located at the confluence of the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, Culligan explained how the design of the two buildings tapers to mitigate wind loads, a crucial factor at this site with concentrated wind forces. Says SOM Partner Scott Duncan, “We like to think there’s poetry in highly functional considerations if they’re done right.” Watch the full episode below.

"Chicago’s Newest Towers Are Invisible to Wind"