Mexico City Shortlists Seven Architects for Major Airport Expansion

Zagreb Airport Competition Proposal / ZHA © Zaha Hadid Architects

Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are among seven international practices listed to compete for a 5,000 hectare expansion that hopes to “alleviate severe congestion” at the airport. With each team led by Mexican firms, the shortlisted architects, which also include SOM, Gensler, and Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, have been asked to envision a 70-gate, phased expansion capable of hosting 40-million passengers per year. A schematic masterplan has been provided by Arup. Completion of the first phases is tentatively planned for 2018. 

SOM Chosen to Design New Learning Facility for Barnard College

John Jay College of Criminal Justice / . Image © Eduard Hueber

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has been chosen to design a new teaching and learning facility for Barnard College – Columbia University’s world-renowned liberal arts college for women. The selection committee chose SOM after deeming them the best candidate in three categories: “a history of creative and innovative architecture,” a proven recorded on similar academic projects, and “an internal commitment to woman’s leadership reflected by women holding key roles in the firm.”

Simplicity, Structural Clarity & Sustainability: How SOM Remains a Global Leader

For a relatively large practice, Chicago rarely feels like one. Pictured here are the several dozen architects and engineers that make up the firm, including representatives from two in-house groups: the Chicago Structures Group and so-called “Research Gang,” under the direction of “maker” Bill Baker. Image © Tim Klein

Originally posted under the title “Well-Oiled Machine” on Metropolis Magazine, this fascinating article by Ian Volner profiles the international behemoth that is SOM, exploring how the practice has remained so prominent – and relevant – after 78 years, and what it is that stylistically unites a practice spread across five continents with more than 10,000 buildings to their name.

Frank Lloyd Wright called them the “Three Blind Mies.” Louis Skidmore, Nathaniel Owings, and John O. Merrill were the architectural troika whose namesake firm—founded in Chicago in the mid-1930s—became something like the Julia Child of postwar design, delivering European sophistication to middle America at midcentury. Through hundreds of buildings in cities all across the country (and, later, around the world) the office turned the stringent aesthetic of German master builder Ludwig Mies van der Rohe into an architectural metonym for big business. Whether you look at rows of sleek glass and see grace and economy, or only the “thousand blind windows” of Allen Ginsberg’s monstrous “Moloch,” it’s no stretch to say that you have Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to thank for them.

More on SOM’s huge influence after the break

World Trade Center Progress Report: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Cranes over the Transport Hub in July of 2012. Image © Mark Lennihan, AP

Slowly, and surely not lacking critique, ’s transport hub rises $2 billion over budget, SOM’s Freedom Tower — now, more mundanely referred to as 1WTC — is recognized as the tallest building in the western hemisphere and there is still a considerable amount of development yet to be done on the . Read Edwin Heathcote’s article on the Financial Times regarding the good, the bad and the ugly: ”Rebuilding the World Trade Center: A Progress Report.”

New Images Unveiled of Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island Campus

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New information has been released — along with a series of renders — seven months after the New York City Council approved Cornell University’s two million square foot technology campus in Roosevelt Island. Envisioned as “a campus built for the next century,” Cornell Tech’s first set of buildings has tapped into the talent of some of the most respected architecture firms in the city: Morphosis‘ Pritzker Prize-winning Thom Mayne, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, Handel Architects, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill.

New images of the buildings, after the break…

SOM Unveils 500-Meter “Energy Tower” for Jakarta

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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) has unveiled a 99-story tower planned for the Rasuna Epicentrum neighborhood in Jakarta. Designed as a “highly sustainable corporate headquarters” for the state-owned energy company, Pertamina, the “energy tower” aims to become a new landmark on the Indonesian capital’s skyline. Once complete in 2020, the large-scale project will feature a 2,000-seat performing arts auditorium and exhibition pavilion, public mosque, and central energy plant in addition to the office tower.

Which Architects Are Most Admired By Other Architects?

Foster + Partner’s Apple Campus II. Image © City of Cupertino

As part of their annual research for the World Architecture Top 100, Building Design (BD) has compiled a list of which architects are most admired by their colleagues from across the globe. Last year’s results were somewhat predictable, with Foster + Partners leading and Renzo Piano’s Building Workshop and Herzog + de Meuron close behind. According to BD, “this year saw a trend towards more commercial names.”

This year’s “most admired” list includes:

New Exhibition Calls for a Bold Vision in the “Great Basin”

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (), in partnership with the International Secretariat for Water (ISW) and the Chicago Architecture Foundation (), presents Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin. The new exhibition calls for a 100-year vision to guide planning and development in the binational watershed of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, and Gulf of St. Lawrence – the Great Basin. Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin is on display in CAF’s Atrium Gallery at 224 South Michigan Avenue until February 2014.

Great Cities, Great Lakes, Great Basin engages the public with the vastness and vulnerability of the earth’s largest surface freshwater resource, which spans from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean. The exhibition depicts the Great Basin as one region defined by the watershed rather than political boundaries and illustrates a vision for the region as an international park that encompasses culturally-rich urban and rural areas. The exhibition also highlights initiatives around the region that Basin cities can learn from to enhance quality of life.

More information after the break.

CTBUH Crowns One World Trade as Tallest Building in US

Center as seen from the Hudson River. Image © Joe Mabel via Wikipedia

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat () has official ruled Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s One World Trade Center (1WTC) as the tallest building in the United States. The decision comes after a long debate questioned whether or not the tower’s 408 foot spire should count towards its overall height.

As CTBUH explained: “Due to design changes that resulted in the removal of the architectural cladding around the mast at the top of the structure, it became unclear whether the structure was in fact a ‘spire’ – a vertical element that completes the architectural expression of the building and is intended as permanent, or whether it was an antenna – a piece of functional-technical equipment that was subject to change.”

SOM Gets Behind Wooden Skyscraper Design

Courtesy of ArchDaily

Although known for their iconic of glass and steel, SOM has begun to redefine our idea of the high-rise by pushing for wood as an alternative material for tall buildings. Not only could it help solve the worldwide problem of housing for those who are or will live in cities, but wooden skyscrapers could also address climate change by reducing a building’s carbon footprint. Click here to read about the structural system that has come up with and don’t check out our previous coverage on the equally fascinating Timber Tower Research Project!

SOM Breaks Ground on Los Angeles’ Courthouse

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Just eight months after being awarded the design-build contract with Clark Construction Group, Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill (SOM) has broke ground on the new, $318 million United States Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. This is a long-awaited achievement for the city of Los Angeles, as attempts have been made to construct a new courthouse since 2007. However, despite having to abandoned a $1.1 billion Perkins + Will proposal years ago, many believe this sustainable and more cost-effective design by SOM was worth the wait.

In Progress: Muqarnas Tower / SOM

© SOM

Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Location: ,
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: 890,000 sq ft
Year: 2013
Photographs: SOM

The Timber Tower Research Project: Re-imagining the Skyscraper

Dewitt-Chestnut Apartments © Hedrich Blessing via

SOM has come up with a structural system for skyscrapers that uses mass timber as the main structural material and minimizes the embodied carbon footprint of the building. The firm believes that their proposal is technically feasible from the standpoint of structural engineering, architecture, interior layouts, and building services and would revolutionize the traditional skyscraper as we know it.

Read on to learn more about The Tower Research Project.

SOM Designs Singapore’s Tallest Tower

© | Design Mirage

SOM has designed what will be ’s tallest tower upon its completion in 2016. Positioned as a premier quality business and lifestyle hub, the 290-meter, 1.7-million-gross-square-foot Tanjong Pagar Centre will provide a mix of uses, comprising office, residential, retail and hospitality, in the historic Tanjong Pagar central business district. The development will be a significant contribution to the evolving skyline of and will become a landmark destination, serving as a gateway to the future waterfront city.

Council Approves Cornell’s Net-Zero Tech Campus on Roosevelt Island

© Kilograph

City Council has approved Cornell’s two-million-square-foot tech campus planned to break ground in 2014 on New York’s . Masterplanned by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (), the ambitious carbon positive campus will offer housing for 2,000 full-time graduate students, world-class education facilities, a hotel, a corporate co-location building, and more than an acre of public open space. Construction will commence with the first, state-of-the-art academic building that will be designed by Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis, who will incorporate the latest environmental advances, such as geothermal and solar power, to achieve net-zero energy for the landmark structure.

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 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…

SOM & CASE Launch First Crowd-sourced, Web-based Resource for AEC Industry

Courtesy of Inc

SOM and CASE has formally launched AEC-APPS, the first crowd-sourced, web-based library for applications used by architects, engineers and construction professionals. This is a one-of-a-kind initiative in the AEC Industry and is a non-profit online community that allows digital tool users and toolmakers to share ideas, tips and resources covering a wide array of applications, ranging from commercially-marketed products to user-created scripts and utilities. After months of beta testing, the site currently hosts more than 500 users who have posted 800 apps that can be used in the design, construction and operation of buildings.

Read more about this new initiative after the break.

Spotlight on Design: SOM

Al Hamra Firdous Tower by SOM / © Tim Griffith

Taking place at the National Building Museum on May 14 from 6:30-8:00pm, SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Architects) design principal Gary Haney, AIA, RIBA, will present the innovative design process behind the firm’s work, including the recently completed, 1,354-foot tall, Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait City, one of the world’s tallest buildings and the tallest building in Kuwait. Since its founding in 1936, the firm has designed and engineered some of the tallest buildings in the world-notably ’s Willis Tower, and New York’s Center. To register, and for more information, please visit here.