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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Founded in 1936, we have completed more than 10,000 projects across 50-plus countries. We are renowned for our iconic buildings and our steadfast commitment to design excellence, innovation, and sustainability.

SOM’s unrivaled portfolio contains some of the greatest design achievements in the modern era. We have deep experience in a vast range of building types, from cutting-edge research facilities to soaring glass office towers. SOM has earned more than 1,700 awards and is the only practice to have twice been named ‘Firm of the Year’ by the American Institute of Architects.

See also: TOP ARCHITECTS | JEAN NOUVEL

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Collaboration is a guiding force at SOM. The company believe the best results stem from an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders. There are no pre-established formulas at SOM. They design each project to meet specific needs and conditions.

SOM Partners and Directors are world-renowned leaders in their respective fields. As design, technical, and management experts, together they form a holistic approach that bolsters the design and construction process and contributes to each project’s success.

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OM has a long history of working internationally and today employs 1,000 professionals worldwide. We maintain offices in Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C.
The Projects
Hong Kong International Airport – Terminal 2 and Skyplaza

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Encompassing a wide array of functions, Terminal 2 and SkyPlaza accommodate ongoing growth at the Hong Kong International Airport. SOM faced the challenge of designing a complex facility in the most efficient and cost-effective way while endowing it with a distinct identity.

SOM created an undulating facade and interior ceiling that evoke shimmering waves and emphasize the interplay of surface and texture. To assist in wayfinding, moments of transition and interface are marked with orange-fritted glass.

Located within Terminal 2, the innovative SkyPlaza has a remarkably diverse program. In addition to serving as a transit hub, it houses restaurants, shops, and air-passenger processing facilities. The comingling of these functions boosts convenience and service levels at one of the world’s busiest airports.

Beijing Finance Street

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Located in the city’s historic center, Beijing Finance Street is China’s new “Wall Street.” The vibrant district, built in time for the 2008 Olympic Games, contains a diverse mix of commercial and residential buildings, in addition to ample public space. SOM’s master plan capitalized on the city’s tremendous economic energy and addressed the resulting challenges of improving transportation and air quality.

The scale is unmistakably pedestrian, which reflects the client’s goal to create both formal and informal meeting places. A network of lush gardens, courtyards, and landscaped pathways weave between buildings and result in a walkable environment. The district is anchored by the “Great Urban Atrium,” a crescent-shaped structure that opens onto a central park. Now bustling with around-the-clock activity, Beijing Finance Street has become a prominent fixture within the city.

China World Trade Center 3A

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The soaring China World Trade Center is the tallest structure in Beijing and the centerpiece of the Central Business District. Embodying quiet, purposeful elegance, the mixed-use skyscraper stands in refreshing contrast to the jumble of new buildings in the fast-growing area.

The tower’s robust base is folded seamlessly into the existing urban fabric and visually anchors the tapering spire. The ground floor contains clearly organized entries to offices on the west and a hotel on the east. Above, fritted glass and metal fins on the tower’s facades help mitigate solar heat gain while maximizing daylighting — features that helped the project earn LEED® Gold certification. This textured surface reads as a waterfall of light and detail.

The tower marks the third phase of the China World Trade Center development. It sits immediately southwest of China World Trade Center Phase 3B, a 58-story tower designed by SOM that is slated to open in 2016.
Awards

SOM has won more awards than any other architecture firm.

TWO PROJECTS EARN TOP HONORS

SOM earned two 2015 AIA Institute Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects. John Jay College of Criminal Justice won in the Architecture category, and the Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts District Master Plan won for Regional & Urban Design.

EXCHANGE HOUSE WINS 25-YEAR AWARD

Exchange House is the 2015 recipient of the American Institute of Architects’ 25-Year Award, which honors buildings that have set new precedents in architecture. Exchange House is the centerpiece of the Broadgate development in the City of London.

PRAISE FOR SOM’S ENGINEERING PROWESS
The Architectural Engineering Institute has recognized three SOM projects as part of its Professional Project Award program: Terminal 2 at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport; China Merchants Tower & Woods Park; San Bernardino Justice Center.

Recent Awards

2015 Broadgate – Exchange House National 25 Year Award American Institute of Architects
2015 John Jay College of Criminal Justice Institute Honor Award for Architecture American Institute of Architects
2015 Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts District Master Plan Institute Honor Awards for Regional & Urban Design American Institute of Architects
2015 China Merchants Tower & Woods Park Award of Excellence: Mechanical Systems Design AEI Affiliated Engineers
2015 Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport – Terminal 2 Award of Excellence for Architectural Engineering Integration Architectural Engineering Institute
2015 University Center – The New School Top Ten Award AIA – Committee on the Environment (COTE)
2014 Tanjong Pagar Centre WAN Mixed-Use Award (Future Projects) World Architecture News
2014 San Bernardino Justice Center Excellence in Engineering ASHRAE – Illinois Chapter
2014 Pluit City Master Plan MIPIM Asia Awards – Best Futura Mega Project MIPIM Asia
2014 U.S. Consulate General – Guangzhou CODAaward Institutional Curation Winner Collaboration of Design + Art

SOM Foundation

Through research and travel support, the SOM Foundation enables individuals with the highest design aspirations to broaden their horizons and achieve excellence in their professional or academic careers. Learn more on the foundation’s website.

Achievements

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REBUILDING THE NEW YORK SKYLINE
At 1,776 feet in height, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. When it opened in 2014, the 104-story crystalline skyscraper recaptured the New York City skyline, reasserted Lower Manhattan’s preeminence as a business center, and established a new civic icon for the United States.

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A NET-ZERO ENERGY SCHOOL
With a strong commitment to environmentally responsible architecture, SOM was selected to design the first net-zero energy school in the northeastern United States and one of the first worldwide. Located in Staten Island, P.S. 62 will harvest enough power to meets its yearly energy needs. Sustainable features include photovoltaics that wrap the roof and southern facade, a geo-exchange system, and a high-performance building envelope.

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NEW DISCOVERIES IN COMPUTATIONAL DESIGN
For an architecture firm to remain competitive, perhaps nothing is more critical than the pursuit of emerging technology. To that end, SOM established the Black Box Studio in 2007 to explore the nascent field of computational design. Based in our firm’s Chicago office, the research team develops and leverages parametric and algorithmic processes to generate new, innovative approaches to form-making.

See also: Top Interior Designers | Sofie Lachaert

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