As lead designer of the Lever House and many of America’s most historically prominent buildings, Pritzker Prize winning architect Gordon Bunshaft (9 May 1909 - 6 August 1990) is credited with ushering in a new era of Modernist skyscraper design and corporate architecture. A stern figure and a loyal advocate of the International Style, Bunshaft spent the majority of his career as partner and lead designer for SOM, who have referred to him as “a titan of industry, a decisive army general, an architectural John Wayne.”
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) has released the plans for Manhattan West, a new office and residential development spanning five million square feet over the 2.6-acre platform that covers the active rail tracks connecting Penn Station to New Jersey and Upstate New York.
With its 80 years of experience in bringing together architecture and structural engineering Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) remains groundbreaking to this day, particularly in the construction of gigantic skyscrapers, the so-called “supertalls”. The exhibition and the accompanying DETAIL volume present the approaches, the roots and the theoretical background of the SOM Structural Group. One central question is how far architecture can go – in terms of height. Typical structural concepts and individual details from numerous projects across the world serve to illustrate processes of solution finding. The results illustrate the firm’s core values: simplicity, clarity, hierarchy, efficiency, economy and advancement. A number of iconic SOM buildings such as the John Hancock Center and the Sears Tower help to position the example projects – ranging from James Turrell’s Skyspace to Burj Khalifa – within the context of SOM’s complete work. The innovative structural solutions presented here indicate how SOM enables the creation of “next generation” buildings.
Humanity has become obsessed with breaking its limits, creating new records only to break them again and again. In fact, our cities’ skylines have always been defined by those in power during every period in history. At one point churches left their mark, followed by public institutions and in the last few decades, it's commercial skyscrapers that continue to stretch taller and taller.
But when it comes to defining which buildings are the tallest it can get complicated. Do antennas and other gadgets on top of the building count as extra meters? What happens if the last floor is uninhabitable? The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has developed their own system for classifying tall buildings, measuring from the “level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the architectural top of the building, including spires, but not including antennae, signage, flag poles or other functional-technical equipment.” Using this system more than 3,400 buildings have been categorized as over 150 meters tall.
We take a look at world’s 25 tallest buildings, according to the CTBUH, after the break.
The Hajj Terminal at the King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, is no ordinary airport terminal. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as part of the master plan for the broader airport and air force base facility, the Hajj Terminal, officially inaugurated in 1981, was purpose-built for the influx of religious pilgrims that stream into Saudi Arabia for just a few weeks each year as part of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The Hajj has been a part of Islam since the religion’s founding–it is one of the “five pillars” of Islam–but with the advent of jumbo jets and government subsidized pilgrimage trips from Muslim countries around the world, the number of Hajjis soared from an average of 50,000 in the 1960s to 500,000 in 1975. SOM’s massive Teflon-coated fiberglass tent-like structure would accommodate 950,000 Hajjis by 1985, and today millions of pilgrims pass through the facility each year during the Hajj.
Until recently, the only options for providing clients and the public with visualizations of what a prospective building would look like were almost exclusively hand drawn renderings, or scale models built by hand. Both of these practices are still in use today, but now there is a much wider range of options with 3D modeling software providing the bulk of renderings, the growing presence of 3D printing, and even video fly-throughs with special effects that rival the latest Hollywood action movie. This 16mm film created by architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in 1984, and digitized by illustrator Peter Little, reminded us of what the early days of digital 3D modeling looked like.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has unveiled their design for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL): a 3D-printed building powered by a 3D-printed vehicle developed by ORNL. Dubbed AMIE, the project was developed in collaboration with ORNL, University of Tennessee (UT), Clayton Homes, General Electric, Alcoa, NanoPore and Tru-Design. SOM was able to take the design from concept to completion in less than a year.
Combining mobile power with energy-efficient design and photovoltaic (PV) panels, the AMIE presents possibilities for human shelter off-the-grid. Following previous work by SOM, demonstrating the use of 3D printing for complex, organic geometries, the new building combines structure, insulation, air and moisture barriers, and exterior cladding into one shell.
From interlocking 3D printed bricks to SOM's "All Aboard Florida" train station in West Palm Beach Fast Company has named 13 winners for their 2015 "Innovation By Design Awards." Each winner was selected from over 1,500 projects worldwide for being "big ideas" with "meticulously though out details" and a "clear viewpoint about how we live now—and how it could be better."
This year's winners include...
Built in 1960 and designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland—a modernist gem on the National Register of Historic Places—could soon face destruction, as the city council prepares to take a vote deciding between restoration or demolition.
Since the Moda Center, better known as the Rose Garden, was built next door and became the new host of the Portland Trail Blazers basketball team, the Memorial Coliseum has been in a state of decline. Currently, the building generally only hosts infrequent concerts, as well as minor league hockey. However, Friends of Memorial Coliseum see it as much more than just an outdated venue, which is why since the building was first threatened with demolition in 2009 they've been campaigning for its preservation.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has shortlisted four buildings for the annual "Best Tall Building Awards." Considered to be the four best skyscrapers of the year, the buildings have been named from each of the four competing regions in the world - Americas; Asia and Australia; Europe; the Middle East and Africa - from nominees representing 33 countries. One of the buildings will be crowned the world's best at a ceremony this November.
The four top skyscrapers for 2015 are...
Designers are trained to consider the context for a finished building, but often neglect to consider the construction phase. When architecture is primarily judged based on the impacts it has on their surroundings once they are built, what can be learned from the process of building? The time-lapse is a method that can help architects to do just that, as it can capture years of complex development in a matter of minutes. This can uncover patterns of impact on social and economic levels, as months to years are played back over several minutes.
What is shown by time-lapse videos, though, can be as disturbing as it is interesting; when uncovered, the construction process is a revealing process, and the ramifications in regard to energy consumption can be as monumental as the buildings themselves. The time-lapse allows the viewer to get a better understanding of the types and amounts of materials being put into the construction of buildings, and the impact construction has on its immediate surroundings. By comparing time-lapse videos of different projects, what insight can we gain about how the physically generative process of architecture affects people and place?
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) has released a conceptual masterplan for Egypt's new capital city following its unveiling at the Egyptian Economic Development Conference. The 700-square-kilometer "Capital Cairo" hopes stimulate Egypt's ailing economy and alleviate Cairo's rising population density, while adhering to the cultural and climatic conditions of its site.
All the details, after the break.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's (SOM) latest endeavor, a Four Seasons Hotel called Bahrain Bay, has been officially opened. Occupying a private 12-acre island, the hotel creates a dynamic new focal point and a thriving destination for the developing Bahrain Bay district. As part of SOM's masterplan, the hotel is an important milestone in activating the waterfront area.
Read on after the break for more on the hotel's program.
Having joined Skidmore, Owings & Merrill after World War Two at the age of 27, Walter Netsch was promoted to become a partner at the age of 31. Netsch entered the firm during what was arguably its defining era, when the reputation of Gordon Bunshaft and the image of a corporate-driven, teamwork-minded made SOM one of the most recognizable practices in the US. He was also, at the age of just 34, responsible for one of SOM's most recognizable projects of the decade, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and its striking geometric chapel.
To honor what would have been Netsch's 95th birthday, SOM recently republished an interview between Netsch and architecture theorist and writer Detlef Mertins, which had originally been published in 2001 in SOM Journal 1. In the following extract from this interview, Netsch discusses the story of how he developed the design, and what it was like to participate in one of America's most influential practices among a host of strong characters.
President’s day marks a moment of reflection in the United States, where citizens acknowledge the contributions of US presidents to the politics and culture of the nation. While some of these men are still with us, the majority are represented only by the monuments and buildings they left to posterity. Indeed, the legacy of a United States President has come to be embodied in a very specific type of building—a library. The last 13 presidents have commissioned national libraries to be built in their name, marking the end of their service. Libraries have also been posthumously dedicated to presidents who did not erect such monuments during their own lifetimes. In either case, recording the lives and legacies of these great men has made for some fantastic architecture. See some of our favorites, after the break!
The competition to masterplan Muscat, Oman’s new district, Al-Irfan, is over. Organized by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), five teams were chosen to submit proposals for the development project. Of those five, international firm Allies and Morrison has been selected to oversee the design process. The firm will be working in with the Oman Tourism Development Company SAOC (Omran) to develop a site of over 7.4 million square meters into a thriving urban center that will provide business and residential opportunities for the people of Oman.
Four projects have been selected by the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) for honorably expanding the role of the architect beyond the building and into the realms of urban design, regional and city planning, and community development. These projects will be honored with the AIA’s Institute Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design at the 2015 National Convention and Design Exposition in Atlanta. See the winners, after the break.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s Broadgate Exchange House (1990) in London has been announced as the 2015 recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ 25-Year Award. The first UK project to ever win the award, the ten-story Exchange House was commended for “standing the test of time” with its “simple yet ingenious structural system that unifies design and function in the mid-century Modernist tradition.”