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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

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Penn Station, Re-Imagined

This morning, four architectural firms, invited by the Metropolitan Art Society(MAS), displayed how they would transform New York's darkest & dingiest hub - Penn Station - into a space worthy of its site in the heart of the city.

New Yorkers have been up in arms about Penn Station ever since its Beaux-Arts predecessor, designed by McKim, Mead & White, was demolished in 1963. Its replacement is a dark, cramped station that lacks both the operational and security features it needs to sustain the hundreds of thousands of travelers who use it daily. As Michael Kimmelman put it in his inaugural piece as architecture editor for The New York Times: "To pass through Grand Central Terminal, one of New York’s exalted public spaces, is an ennobling experience, a gift. To commute via the bowels of Penn Station, just a few blocks away, is a humiliation."

As we reported last month,Madison Square Garden’s (MSG) 50-year permit expires this year, and it will be either renewed without limit, or extended 10-15 years, by The New York City Council in the coming months. The problem, according to MAS, is that "MSG happens to sit on top of the busiest train station in North America [a.k.a, Penn Station] and constrains its ability to serve over half a million people every day. [...] 2013 presents New York City with a truly unique opportunity and together we need to seize this moment."

And so MAS invited Diller, Sofidio, & Renfro; H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture; SHoP; Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, to do just that. See their visions, after the break...

One World Trade Center Will Soon Top Out at 1,776 Feet

After weather conditions refused to cooperate on Monday, the final two sections of Freedom Tower have been lifted to the summit of the One World Trade CenterConstruction of the gargantuan 758-ton, 408-foot spire - a joint Canadian-U.S. venture - began in December 2012, when 18 separate pieces were shipped to Manhattan from Canada and New JerseyThis final addition, including a steel beacon, means that the height of the building will soon rise from 1,368 feet to a more patriotic 1,776 feet once the segments are permanently installed within the next few weeks. However, it's not yet certain that the building will officially be the tallest in the U.S.

Read more after the break...

In Progress: Infinity Tower / SOM

© SOM
© SOM
  • Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Structural and Plumbing Engineering: SOM
  • Site Area: 3,026.50 m2
  • Project Area: 111,484 m2
  • Building Height: 307m (73 stories)
  • Area: 0.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: SOM

© SOM © SOM © SOM © SOM

In Progress: The New School University Center / SOM

© SOM
© SOM

Quickly rising on the corner of 14th Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan, this new, multipurpose facility will soon become the “heart” of The New School – an avant-garde university in New York City. The University Center, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), combines all aspects of a traditional campus into a single, 16-story building, offering 200,000 square feet of academic space on the first seven floors and 150,000 square feet for a 600-bed dormitory on the levels above. The brass-and-glass structure, which is the largest construction project in the university’s 91-year history in Greenwich Village, is scheduled for completion in 2014. In progress images and more information after the break.

US Air Force Academy CCLD / SOM

US Air Force Academy CCLD © SOM
US Air Force Academy CCLD © SOM

Construction has commenced on the US Air Force Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development (CCLD), designed by SOM. This new building will be the most recent addition to the Air Force Academy’s Campus in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which was also designed by SOM in 1954.  The design and construction of the new facility gives SOM the opportunity to revisit the significant project of the 20th century and incorporate the values of the initial design to the addition. Join us after the break for more.

LEGO Turns 80, Remains Architecturally Awesome

National Building Museum's Towering Ambition exhibition by Architect Adam Reed Tucker. Towering Spiral via Flickr User © 2010 Brian Mosley
National Building Museum's Towering Ambition exhibition by Architect Adam Reed Tucker. Towering Spiral via Flickr User © 2010 Brian Mosley

“Legos were the ultimate building tool, capable of making the most advanced space ships, powerful vehicles, impressive buildings, and incredible cities. As a child, everyone I knew loved Legos, and this never seemed to change. In high school, whenever a conversation with friends happened to shift upon Legos, everyone would gleefully reminisce about their days making fantastic structures out of those awesome little building blocks.  No doubt Legos played a supporting role in my growth in appreciation for architecture.” - Architect Albert Lam, in a Blog post for the LPA When you ask architects what inspired them, almost all (according to one study, 99%) can trace the calling back to the same, simple origin: playing with their LEGO bricks. The LEGO Group, which turns 80 today, can boast that there are approximately 62 LEGO bricks for ever person on earth.  However, it wasn’t until 1958, when the newly-plastic LEGO bricks incorporated the classic knob-and-tube-connecting-system, that they overtook the Froebel block (Frank Lloyd Wright’s toy of choice) to become the massively popular architectural inspiration they are today. But while the influence of LEGO on architects may be self-evident, not many know about Architecture’s contribution to LEGO. In fact, only through the lens of Architecture, can you truly understand why LEGO merits its bold moniker as “The Toy of the Century.” Find out Architecture & LEGOs unlikely relationship, after the break…

SOM breaks ground at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati

OSC Aerial © SOM
OSC Aerial © SOM

Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) has started construction on their 1.4 million-square-foot master plan for The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Demolition will commence on the existing parking garage at the south end of the hospital complex in order to clear the way for the new Orthopedic and Spine Center (OSC). The contemporary 332,000 square-foot building draws on the predominantly red brick character of the existing buildings and surrounding historic Mt. Auburn neighborhood, while providing a new public face on the south side of the hospital. SOM strives to achieve LEED certification after completion in mid-2015. Continue after the break to learn more.

Northeast Canopy - Lobby 02 © SOM Northeast Canopy - Drop Off © SOM Concourse - North Perspective © SOM OSC Southeast View © SOM

Manhattan Loft Gardens / SOM

SOM I © Hayes Davidson
SOM I © Hayes Davidson

A triple height entrance lobby will welcome visitors to a world-class hotel, two restaurants, three sky gardens and a 248 unit residential tower, all with stunning views over Olympic Park. These are some of the key features offered in the newly unveiled plan for the 42-storey Manhattan Loft Gardens in London, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). It is planned to be built near the Stratford International Station – the gateway to the 2012 London Olympics. Completion is scheduled for 2014. Continue after the break to learn more.

Shared Communal Lobby and Reception - SOM I © Hayes Davidson Lower Roof Terrace - SOM I © Hayes Davidson Upper Roof Garden Apartments - SOM I © Hayes Davidson Middle Roof Garden - SOM I © Hayes Davidson

Diagonal Tower / SOM

© SOM / Crystal CG
© SOM / Crystal CG

SOM’s new 64-storey Diagonal Tower to be located in the developing commercial and mixed-use Yongsan International Business District in the heart of Seoul, South Korea, exudes a modern take on structural expressionism.  The tower progressively addresses the critical issues associated with skyscraper design in an iconic and refined manner. From structural and energy efficiency to reduced construction costs that the tower must meet, SOM have strove to integrate these aspects holistically into the overall aesthetics. More details after the break.

© SOM / Crystal CG © SOM / Crystal CG © SOM © SOM

Construction begins on SOM’s newest Supertall Skyscraper

Courtesy of Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Courtesy of Skidmore Owings & Merrill

Today, Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) broke ground on yet another supertall building in China. The 96-story-tall CTF Tianjin Tower is subtly defined by undulating curves that shape its three programmatic elements while presenting a bold monolithic presence on the TEDA district skyline outside Tianjin. The 1,740-feet (530-meter) tall tower houses offices, 300 service apartments and a 350-room, 5-star hotel beneath its boldly arched top. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), the CTF Tianjin Tower will be the fourteenth tallest skyscraper built by 2020.  Continue reading for more.

CornellNYC selects Architect for Net-Zero Tech Campus

Master Plan Schematic Design © Cornell University
Master Plan Schematic Design © Cornell University

Today, Cornell University has announced their selection of Thom Mayne and Morphosis to design the first academic building for the CornellNYC Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Mayor Michael Bloomberg awarded the Roosevelt Island campus project to Cornell mid-December of last year. With plans to achieve net-zero, the campus is striving to become the new modern prototype for learning spaces worldwide. “This project represents an extraordinary opportunity to explore the intersection of three territories: environmental performance, rethinking the academic workspace and the unique urban condition of Roosevelt Island,” Mayne said, as reported by Cornell University. “This nexus offers tremendous opportunities not only for CornellNYC Tech, but also for New York City.” Continue reading for more.

One World Trade Center dominates the NYC Skyline

© EJP Photo
© EJP Photo

With the installation of a girder on the 100th floor, the One World Trade Center has become the tallest building in New York. Currently standing at 1,271 feet (387m) tall, the “Freedom Tower” has surpassed the 1,250 foot Empire State Building. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the One World Trade Center will become the tallest building in the US and the third tallest in the world upon completion. Continue after the break for more.

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi / SOM

Sheikh Khalifa Medical City © SOM
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City © SOM

Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA), has unveiled plans for the new three-million-square-foot, 838-bed Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC). The new complex, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in a joint venture with ICME and Tilke, will replace the existing Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and provide expanded medical, pediatric, and trauma care for the residents of Abu Dhabi. Mustafa K. Abadan, Design Partner for the project, says “The new Sheikh Khalifa Medical City balances the technical demands of a world-class medical center with the psychological well being of its visitors. The design allows for the flexible integration of next generation medical technologies, while the incorporation of amenities, such as trees and hanging gardens coupled with restaurants and retail, provides tranquility, relief and a sense of normalcy for patients and their families.” Continue reading for more images and the architect’s description.

General Lobby © SOM Rooftop Commons view towards General Hospital © SOM Hanging Garden © SOM Cafeteria Terrace © SOM

Shortlist announced for the highly anticipated Los Angeles Federal Courthouse

The Courthouse Site in Los Angeles - Image courtesy of Google Maps
The Courthouse Site in Los Angeles - Image courtesy of Google Maps

After remaining on hold since 2005, the General Services Administration (GSA) has reinstated plans to construct a new U.S. Courthouse in downtown LA. The 3.7 acre dirt lot at 107 South Broadway, down the street from Morphosis’ Caltrans building, LA’s City Hall, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, has remained dormant since 2007; shortly after the GSA abandoned Perkins + Will’s estimated $1.1 billion conceptual design due to rising costs. Now, plans for the courthouse have been scaled back and the GSA has just released the shortlisted teams competing of the project. Continue reading after the break to see who made the cut.

Corgan & SOM Team Wins GSA Design Competition for the Social Security Administration National Support Center

From Mad Men to Mies: Why Modernism Holds Sway

It’s June 1966. Mies’ iconic Seagram Building dominates New York City. Bob Dylan has just released Blonde on Blonde. The Vietnam War is escalating. John Lennon has yet to meet Yoko Ono. Martin Luther King, Jr. has yet to be assassinated. And Don Draper is readjusting to married life – with his 25 year-old secretary. The excitement over Mad Men, while always eager, was positively explosive last Sunday. The season 5 premiere resulted in the show’s highest ratings to date (3.5 million viewers, up 21% from last year). While the show has always received critical acclaim, now, for whatever reason, it has reached a fever-pitch of popularity. On a purely aesthetic level, it’s easy to explain. The show draws in audiences with a meticulous, sumptuous set design that allows a nostalgic journey back in time: when design was innovative & clean, architecture was confident (cocky even),  and modernism still held its promise. But on another level, the show is successful because of its inevitability. The very knowledge of the ephemerality of that confidence, a theme particularly relevant to audiences in the wake of the Recession, is what strikes a chord, what makes the show positively hypnotizing. Watching Mad Men is like watching a Modernist car crash. A beautiful demise. More on the Modernist Landscape of Mad Men and why the show has struck a chord with audiences today after the break. 

SOM announces Urgent “Call to Vision” for the Great Lakes

Courtesy of SOM
Courtesy of SOM

Today the world celebrates its most precious resource: water. Countries world-wide suffer from water shortages so extreme that they cannot produce enough food to support their basic needs. In an effort to protect the World’s largest source of surface fresh water, the City Design Practice of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is gaining international support in their pro bono pursuit to create a 100-year vision that will environmentally protect and economically revitalize the entire U.S. and Canada Great Lakes region, a vision known as The Great Lakes Century. “The availability and quality of fresh water to sustain a radically urbanizing world is unquestionably a core issue of our time and requires holistic environmental thinking at an unprecedented scale,” said Philip Enquist, SOM partner in charge of urban design worldwide. Continue reading for more information on this important cause.

Cornell Reveals the Architects Competing to Design the First NYC Tech Campus Building

© Cornell University
© Cornell University

After Mayor Bloomberg, Cornell President Skorton and Technion President Lavie announced Cornell’s victory over Stanford to build an eleven acre state-of-the-art tech campus on Roosevelt Island in New York City, the team has now tackled their next step in choosing six high-profile architecture firms competing to design the schools first academic facility. Selected from over more than 40 firms from the U.S. and abroad, the finalists include Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Morphosis Architects, Steven Holl Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Continue reading for more information.