Two SOM Projects Receive 2015 AIA Chicago Design Excellence Awards

The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) honored SOM with two Design Excellence Awards on October 23, 2015, at this year’s Designight event. UI Labs Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and China Merchants Tower & Woods Park Master Plan both earned the Distinguished Building Award Citation of Merit. The annual awards program recognizes exemplary projects by Chicago firms.

Located on Chicago’s Goose Island, UI Labs Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute is the first facility of its kind in the United States, enabling side-by-side collaboration as university and industry partners reinvent 21st century manufacturing. Flexibility and visual connectivity underpin the 64,000-square-foot renovated facility. Ultra-transparent glass separates the manufacturing floor and open workspaces, making activity visible and diffusing daylight from the existing clerestory skylights deep into the facility. An environmental graphics suite brings further cohesion, information, and inspiration to the interior.

China Merchants Tower anchors the Woods Park master plan in Shenzhen, providing 103,000 square meters of new office and retail space. The tower’s tapered and chamfered form allows lower floors to slope away from the sun, decreasing solar radiation. The shape also accommodates exterior notches that support balconies, giving tenants access to the outdoors on each level. The tower is clad in a system of closely spaced horizontal fins, which reduce solar gain and also bounce daylight into the interior. These fins also refract light at night, working in conjunction with the top of the tower—its signature element—to illuminate the building, which reads as a beacon across Shenzhen.

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