Two SOM Projects Win Structural Engineering Awards

The Structural Engineers Association of Northern California has honored SOM with two 2015 SEAONC Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards. The program recognizes extraordinary structural engineering in both built and research projects. In turn, the SOM-designed Pearl River Tower has won an Award of Excellence in Sustainable Design, while SOM’s Timber Tower and Fargo Block 9 projects together earned an Award of Merit in the Study, Research, and Guidelines category. 

The 309-meter-tall Pearl River Tower is one of the world’s first supertall buildings to be certified LEED© Platinum. Its design incorporates many sustainable features that reduce pressure on the local power grid, lower carbon emissions, and provide a comfortable interior environment. They include an incredibly efficient floorplate, a sculpted form that directs airflow through electricity-generating wind turbines, and an HVAC system that couples radiant cooling and underfloor air ventilation. Pearl River Tower uses approximately 44 percent less energy than a comparable skyscraper. 

Timber Tower is a proposed sustainable high-rise structure that uses mass timber as its main structural material and supplementary reinforced concrete to support highly stressed connecting joints. The resulting system could compete with reinforced-concrete and structural-steel systems while reducing the building’s embodied carbon footprint between 60 percent and 75 percent. Fargo Block 9 is the real-life application and adaptation of the Timber Tower research: The building was designed using a composite structural scheme, with a lightweight timber frame supporting the residential tower and a concrete frame supporting 30-by-30-foot bays in the podium. As designed, the structure could sequester approximately 2,800 tons of carbon dioxide, which equals a 50 percent reduction in embodied carbon footprint. 

SOM’s work will be highlighted as part of SEAONC’s evening awards ceremony on May 5. The event will be held at City Club in San Francisco.