Awards, Press Releases

Two SOM Projects Receive AIA Honor Awards for 2015

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced this year's recipients of the distinguished Institute Honor Awards, recognizing excellence and distinction in architecture, urban architecture, and interior architecture. SOM’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice won in the Architecture Category, and the Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts District Master Plan won in the Regional & Urban Design Category. All recipients of the Honor Awards are noted on the AIA website and in the January 9th issue of AIArchitect.

SOM’s new building for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice provides all the functions of a traditional college campus within the confines of a single city block in New York City. The 625,000-square-foot building consists of a four-story podium, a 14-story tower, and an expansive landscaped terrace that serves as a campus commons. This facility doubled the size of John Jay’s footprint by adding classrooms, laboratories, auditoriums, faculty offices, and student lounges. Its interior is organized around a cascade that circulates users through the building, organizes program elements, maximizes natural light, and encourages interaction. The AIA Honor Awards jury stated: "This massive programmatic space has created an entire village — from a beautiful and happy daycare to a full-service kitchen and dining facility, mock courtrooms, and full-science laboratories. The diversity of space is impressive, and it is hard to imagine that it could be done better."

The scale of the tower references adjacent buildings while providing a strong visual presence in a section of Midtown Manhattan that is experiencing a renaissance. John Jay is a significant part of this redevelopment as an institutional anchor for the neighborhood and a landmark for the community. Stated the jury: "It is built to be durable and lived in, but the moments of whimsy create spaces where students comfortably gather and interact. Its incorporation of the natural slope of the site allows you to peak into the college from the street."

In Beijing, SOM’s Tianqiao Performing Arts District intends to re-establish the city’s cultural heart with a collection of modern and traditional performance venues that respect its World Heritage context. Once a bustling hub of cultural activities and folk arts traditions, Old Tianqiao has fallen into disrepair. The transformative redevelopment will support Tianqiao’s longstanding performing arts tradition through the establishment of modern, jewel box theaters. Public plazas further support both the evolution and preservation of the neighborhood in accommodating the needs and expectations of modern visitors. Stated the jury: "The blend of tradition and new development is nicely executed. The project ties together important cultural places and reintroduces urban farming and a business district."

The plan proposes the financial support of the project through a Business Improvement District, physically connecting potential patrons to theaters. The project also includes a series of environmental goals, including reintroducing the historic farm fabric of the area, developing a stormwater filtration system, reducing waste through the use of existing materials, and reducing automobile dependence by creating walkable neighborhoods around three new subway stations. Stated the jury: "Rapidly growing cities around the world put demands on existing communities for density and development, and this project is significant in light of its attention to these issues."

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.

About the American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Founded in 1857, members of the American Institute of Architects consistently work to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public well being. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders, and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit