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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


Muqarnas Tower / SOM

  • Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
  • Location: Riyadh Saudi Arabia
  • Design Partner: Roger Duffy, FAIA
  • Managing Partner: Peter Magill, AIA
  • Project Manager: Joseph Ruocco, AIA
  • Senior Design Architect: Scott Duncan, AIA
  • Design Architect: Jackie Wong, AIA
  • Area: 890000.0 ft2
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Courtesy of SOM

Courtesy of SOM Courtesy of SOM Courtesy of SOM Courtesy of SOM

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

  • 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


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

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.

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

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

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.

Endangered Monuments Update: Preservation Efforts for the 510 Fifth Avenue Manufactures Trust Company Bank Branch

Manufacturers Trust Company by SOM © Landmarks Preservation Commission
Manufacturers Trust Company by SOM © Landmarks Preservation Commission

ArchDaily previously ran an article about the Manufacturers Trust Company Bank Branch at 510 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and interior designer Eleanor H. Le Maire, a building designated as protected under the Landmarks Preservation Commission with first the exterior in 1997 and later the interior in early 2011.  But as recently as October 2011, the building was already listed under the 2012 World Monuments Fund  in the 2012 World Monuments Watch as the current owners, Vornado Realty Trust, began compromising the landmarked conditions of the interior of the building as it was being adapted for reuse.  With preservationists in an uproar, support for the protection of the building was enough to bring Vornado Realty Trust to New York State Supreme Court where a settlement was reached.

Read on for more details on the settlement and continuing efforts to protect endangered monuments.

SOM launches Los Angeles Design Studio

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.

Cornell’s NYC Tech Campus Wins Competition

Copyright Cornell University
Copyright Cornell University

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is set to announce Cornell University and its partner, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, winner of the intense, yearlong competition to build a New York City Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island. The announcement follows Stanford University’s unexpected withdraw from the competition after tense negotiations with the Bloomberg administration. Meanwhile, last Friday Cornell received a $350 million donation in support of their proposal, being the largest gift the University has ever received.

SOM receives 2011 Firm of the Year Award

The AIA Chicago chapter has awarded the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) the 2011 Firm of the Year Award for 75 years of global design excellence. The chapter recognized the outstanding achievements and excellence in the firm’s body of work and their contribution to the advancement of the architectural profession in areas of design, research, planning, technology and architectural practice. This is the highest AIA award a firm can receive.

9/11 Memorial and Museum / Handel Architects with Peter Walker, Davis Brody Bond

VIsualization by Squared Design Lab -
VIsualization by Squared Design Lab -

Ten years since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the National September 11 Memorial was dedicated in a private ceremony with the victims’ families. It was officially opened to the public as of today, September 12th. The opening of the 9/11 Memorial is a first step towards the closing of a long chapter of construction at the World Trade Center site.

2011 CAE Educational Facility Design Awards

© Eduard Hueber
© Eduard Hueber

AIA recently made us aware of this year’s CAE Educational Facility Design Awards. The purpose of the design awards program is to identify trends and emerging ideas, honor excellence in planning and design, and disseminate knowledge about best practices in educational and community facilities. Check out the list of 13 after the break, including several of the firms we have previously featured.