Adam Semel


Managing Partner

Chicago, Melbourne

Adam Semel is a managing partner in SOM’s Chicago office, where he serves as a leader of the firm’s strategic growth and client engagement across all regions. He plays an integral role in the management and delivery of large-scale complex projects, and is highly experienced in navigating public agency approvals, zoning regulations, and facilitating meaningful conversations with local communities. His strength lies in his ability to work in partnership with institutional clients and complex constituencies to facilitate successful outcomes.

Since joining SOM in 2005, Semel has led interdisciplinary teams on local and international projects. His expertise extends to several practice areas, including commercial, residential, cultural, education, interior design, and urban design at all scales. Drawing on his experience as a project manager and designer, Semel strives to foster a collaborative creative process that contributes to a more positive, sustainable, and inclusive designed environment.

A native Chicagoan, Semel plays a key role in the firm’s commitment to the city, and serves as an advocate for Chicago’s continued growth. Semel played an essential role in realizing the award-winning Chicago Public Library, Chinatown Branch, and more recently, the UI Labs Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and C.H. Robinson’s new Midwest headquarters, both located on the North Branch of the Chicago River. He is currently leading several groundbreaking projects in Chicago, including Lincoln Yards, 400 Lake Shore Drive, 330 North Green Street, and an adaptive reuse of the historic Cook County Hospital.

Semel has worked extensively across the United States, including in New York City on 252 East 57th Street, a 65-story mixed-use tower, and on the Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability at Sandy Ground, the first net-zero-energy school in New York. Overseas, Semel’s portfolio comprises an array of projects in Southeast Asia. In Thailand, he is leading SOM’s work on One Bangkok, a 16-hectare sustainable development, and in the Philippines, he is contributing to Ayala Triangle Gardens, a new mixed-use development in Manila’s financial district.

Semel is passionate about connecting with local communities and consistently seeks out opportunities for civic engagement. He participates regularly in design juries and lectures at institutions around the world. In 2016, he was named a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago.

Selected Work