SOM launches Los Angeles Design Studio

The Partners of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) have announced their plans for a new design studio in to join their West Coast practice. With a commitment to urban, environmental and social sustainability in Southern , the studio will be lead by three former SOM architects – Michael Mann, FAIA; Paul Danna, AIA; and Jose Luis Palacios, AIA.

Craig Hartman, FAIA, the Design Partner in SOM’s San Francisco office, stated, “We want to be part of the dialogue in LA – a tremendously important cultural and talent hub and a diverse design-centric city. With Michael, Paul and Jose leading our studio,” Hartman continued, “we will be part of the conversation and be able to collaborate meaningfully with colleagues and institutions that we’ve known for years.

New commissions include UCLA’s new Medical Education Building that will become a entry point for the campus and the Medical School, a new mix-use project at UC Santa Barbara and a new courthouse for the Superior Court of California in San Diego, which will be the largest in the state. Find more information here.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "SOM launches Los Angeles Design Studio" 17 Jan 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Sophie

    Translation: There’s too many small firms doing good work in LA, so we’re going to move there and really focus on underbidding them and driving them out of business. Corporate vultures.

    • SPUD

      Wow Sophie those are some strong words, you don’t quite know what you are talking about though do you? It seems as though lately there has been a huge demand for SOM designed buildings, mostly either educational or governmental (courthouses) but I think that is a testament to their design sensibility and professionalism, not because they are evil “under bidders” of “small firms”. Your conjecture of underbidding is so ridiculous that it’s laughable. SOM demands some of the highest fees in architecture, there is no way they would “bid” lower than a small firm, the structure of the company simply would not support that kind of strategy. And what’s this idea of bidding anyway? SOM gets work either by invited competition or commission; they don’t go in and “bid” for anything. It seems that there is a real negativity towards corporate firms nowadays, some of which is understandable, but it’s strange that in this case it is directed towards a firm that is really pushing the boundaries in terms of its progressive ideas with regard to design, structure, and sustainability. Sure not every building can be a home run but I have to admit I see just as many terrible designs by small firms as I do by big firms, just saying. I sound like a huge SOM supporter here and in many cases I am, they have designed some of the most remarkable structures in the modern era, some credit must be given. It is far too easy for a student just out of school to scoff and criticize a firm simply because of its semi-corporate nature or the perception that large firms can’t do “cool” work. Some of SOM’s new projects are ridiculously cool, maybe you should check out their website.

      • Sophie

        I know what I’m talking about from direct experience. SOM is an immoral organization that underbids projects and approaches clients who have hired good small LA firms and tries to steal their work. That’s just what SOM does. It’s a fact.

      • Terrence

        That’s not true. What Sophie says is true. SOM approaches clients already working with small firms and tries to steal them. I’ve also experienced this. They purposely track down clients doing good work and try to steal it. They promise lower costs and a bigger organization. SOM and corporate vultures like it are the reason small firms are going out of business. It’s typical corporate vulture capitalism.

  • David Basulto

    Agree with you. It’s been one of the few firms that has been able to scale while still be innovative and competitive. They are also very good in terms of organization. They even have a journal where they publish and share their on going research.

    Sophie, I suggest you to watch the interviews we did with Craig Hartman (San Francisco office) and Philip Enquist (Chicago office).

    • Terrence

      They’re able to be competitive because they track down clients who are doing good work with small firms and then try to steal it by promising lower costs. Just like many of the big immoral corporate firms. They are the reason small firms are going out of business and their business model is a big part of the reason America’s economy is so unhealthy.