Skidmore Owings Merril

Key People:

  • Mustafa Kemal Abadan

Architects with SOM background;

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) is an American architectural, urban planning, and engineering firm. It was formed in Chicago in 1936 by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings; in 1939 they were joined by John O. Merrill. The firm opened their first branch in New York City in 1937, and has since expanded all over the world, with regional offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai and Dubai.

With a portfolio spanning thousands of projects across 50 countries, SOM is one of the largest architectural firms in the world. Their primary expertise is in high-end commercial buildings. They have designed several of the tallest buildings in the world, including the John Hancock Center (1969, second tallest in the world when built), Willis Tower (1973, tallest in the world for over twenty years), and Burj Khalifa (2010, currently the world’s tallest building).

SOM provides services in Architecture, Building Services/MEP Engineering, Digital Design, Graphics, Interior Design, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Sustainable Design and Urban Design & Planning.[2]

1 Design
1.1 Architects
1.2 Engineers
1.3 Interior designers
1.4 Awards
2 Projects
2.1 Burj Khalifa
2.2 One World Trade Center
2.3 The Beacon
2.4 Rockwell Center
2.5 Urban Planning & Design Work
3 See also
4 References
5 External links
Many of SOM’s post-war designs have become icons of American modern architecture, including the Manhattan House (1950), designated as a New York City landmark in 2007 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; and the Lever House (1952), also in New York City; as well as the Air Force Academy Chapel (1958) in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the John Hancock Center (1969) and Sears Tower (1973), both in Chicago.

Although SOM was one of the first major modern American architectural firms to promote a corporate face (i.e. not specifically crediting individual architects for their buildings), many famous architects, engineers and interior designers have been associated with the various national offices.

Due to their faithful following of Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe’s ideas, Frank Lloyd Wright nicknamed them “The Three Blind Mies”.[3]


SOM’s original three partners — Louis Skidmore, Nathaniel Owings and John O. Merrill.
Notable SOM architects include: Edward Charles Bassett,[4] Natalie de Blois,[5][6] Gordon Bunshaft,[7][8] David Childs,[9][10] Robert Diamant[11], Myron Goldsmith,[12][13] Bruce Graham,[14][15] Gary Haney, Gertrude Kerbis,[16] Fazlur Rahman Khan.[17] Lucien Lagrange,[18] Walter Netsch,[19][20] Larry Oltmanns,[21] Brigitte Peterhans,[22][23] Adrian Smith,[24] and Marilyn Jordan Taylor[25]

The earliest amongst the many SOM engineers was John O. Merrill.[26] Fazlur Khan, another engineer at SOM, is considered “the greatest structural engineer of the second half of the 20th century”; he is best known for his design and construction of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), and John Hancock Center and for his designs of structural systems that remain fundamental to all high-rise skyscrapers.[27] Indeed, Khan is responsible for developing the algorithms that made the Hancock building and many subsequent skyscrapers possible. Another notable SOM engineer is Bill Baker, who is best known as the engineer of Burj Khalifa (Dubai, 2010), the world’s tallest manmade structure. To support the tower’s record heights and slim footprint, he developed the “buttressed core”[28] structural system, consisting of a hexagonal core reinforced by three buttresses that form a Y shape.

Interior designers
Davis Allen, a pioneer in corporate interior design, had a forty-year tenure at SOM.[29]

Throughout its history, SOM has been recognized with more than 1,700 awards for quality and innovation.[30] More than 900 of these awards have been received since 1998.[31] In 1996 and 1962, SOM received the Architecture Firm Award[32] from the American Institute of Architects, which recognizes the design work of an entire firm. SOM is the only firm to have received this honor twice. In August 2009 SOM received four of 13 available R+D Awards from Architect Magazine.[33][34][35][36] In addition, a collaboration between SOM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, The Center for Architecture, Science and Ecology, was honored with a fifth award.[37]

Main article: List of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill buildings
SOM has completed over 10,000 projects around the United States and in more than 50 other countries around the world, and maintains offices in Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Abu Dhabi. Smaller field offices supplement these in locations such as the Philippines.

Burj Khalifa
Burj Khalifa is the tallest man-made structure ever built, at 829.8 m (2,722 ft).[38] Construction began on September 21, 2004, and the building officially opened on January 4, 2010.[39][40] The tower’s architect and engineer was Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.[41] George J. Efstathiou was the Managing Partner for the project. Bill Baker, the Chief Structural Engineer for the project, invented the buttressed core structural system in order to enable the tower to achieve such heights economically. Adrian Smith, who worked with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill until 2006, was the Consulting Design Partner.[41][42] The primary builder is a joint venture of South Korean Samsung C&T, who also built the Taipei 101 and Petronas Twin Towers,[43] Besix and Arabtec.

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is located in Manhattan, New York City, and is 1,776 ft (541 m) high, making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. After Daniel Libeskind won the competition for master-planning, SOM was awarded the architectural design contract for the Freedom Tower, despite having withdrawn their entry in the original design competition.

The Beacon
The Beacon is one of the largest condominium complexes in San Francisco. It was designed by SOM.

Rockwell Center
The Rockwell Center is a high-end mixed-use area in Makati City, Philippines. It is a project of Rockwell Land Corporation which is in turn owned by the Lopez Holdings Corporation. Rockwell Center was first developed in 1998 and is being expanded since 2012, carried out the design under the direction of former design partner Larry Oltmanns

Urban Planning & Design Work
In addition to architectural services, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill has also competed in the field of large scale planning programs and is one of the most awarded urban planning and design groups in the world. An example of one important commission was as the lead design firm for the Boston Transportation Planning Review, a metropolitan wide re-design of Boston’s entire transit and roadway infrastructure in the 1970s. Another example is the Bahrain 2030 National Planning Development Strategy. The plan is the first project to inventory and propose virtually every aspect of a new national infrastructure for the Kingdom of Bahrain. It exemplifies a forward-looking process designed to address the role that sustainable land development can play in guaranteeing stable, predictable, and long-term economic growth.

See also
Gary Berkovich
Postal, Matthew A. (2007). “Designation report” (PDF).
Adams, Nicholas. “Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: The Experiment since 1936.” Milan: Electa. 2006.
Kamin, Blair. “Why Architecture Matters.” Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2003.
“Edward Charles Bassett (1921-1999)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
“Natalie de Blois Interviewed by Detlef Mertins, June 17, 2004”. SOM Journal 4. Hatje Cantz. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012.
“Oral History of Natalie De Blois”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
“Oral History of Gordon Bunshaft (1909-1990)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
“Gordon Bunshaft Interviewed by Betty J. Blum, April 4-7, 1989”. SOM Journal 3. Hatje Cantz. Archived from the original on January 6, 2011.
“David Childs, SOM architect, presents final design for the Freedom Tower – June 2007”. Archived from the original on February 28, 2015.
[1] Archived May 11, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
“In Memory: Robert Diamant, Former SOM Partner”. SOM. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
“Myron Goldsmith: Keating Hall at IIT, by Nicholas Adams”. SOM Journal 5. Hatje Cantz. Archived from the original on April 24, 2012.
“Oral History of Myron Goldsmith (1918-1996)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
“Late SOM Architect Bruce Graham Honored: In Recognition of Graham’s 40-year Career in Chicago, the Tribute to the Mastermind of the Willis (Sears) Tower and John Hancock Center Included the Dedication of Honorary Bruce J. Graham Way”. Archived from the original on August 6, 2011.
“Oral History of Bruce Graham (1925-2010)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012.
“Oral History of Gertrude Kerbis (b. 1926)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 17, 2012.
“”. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
[2] Archived September 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
“Oral History of Walter Netsch (1920-2008)”. The Art Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012.
“Walter Netsch Interviewed by Detlef Mertins, May 21, 2001”. SOM Journal 1. Hatje Cantz. Archived from the original on October 16, 2009.
“Architecture+ Awards | 2004 Jury”. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
“Research | The Art Institute of Chicago”. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
“Oral history of Brigitte Peterhans / interviewed by Betty J. Blum, compiled under the auspices of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, the Art Institute of Chicago. :: Chicago Architects Oral History Project”. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
Keegan, Edward (October 27, 2006). “Adrian Smith Leaves SOM”. Washington, DC: Architect Magazine. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
Lewis, Anna (2014). Women of Steel and Stone: 22 Inspirational Architects, Engineers, and Landscape Designers. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Review Press. pp. 88–94. ISBN 978-1-61374-511-3.
FundingUniverse: SOM company history.
Ali Mir (2001), Art of the Skyscraper: the Genius of Fazlur Khan, Rizzoli International Publications, ISBN 0-8478-2370-9
Engineer Bill Baker Is the King of Superstable 150-Story Structures,
Pace, Eric. “Davis Allen, 82, a Designer Of Modern Business Interiors,” New York Times. May 23, 1999.
“Architect Magazine Names SOM its Number One Architecture Firm in the United States”. May 2010. Archived from the original on June 13, 2012.
“SOM Awards”. Archived from the original on November 3, 2011.
List of AIA Firm Award Recipients
“Third Annual R+D Awards: Sustainable Form-Inclusion System”. Architect Magazine. August 2009.
“Third Annual R+D Awards: Oasis Generator”. Architect Magazine. August 2009.
“Third Annual R+D Awards: Pin-Fuse Joint”. Architect Magazine. August 2009.
“Third Annual R+D Awards: San Francisco Digital Context Analysis Model”. Architect Magazine. August 2009.
“Third Annual R+D Awards: Active Phytoremediation Wall System”. Architect Magazine. August 2009.
Burj Khalifa Opening Ceremony. Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai One TV. January 4, 2010. Event occurs at 16:00Z. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
“Official Opening of Iconic Burj Dubai Announced”. Gulfnews. November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 4, 2009.
“Burj Dubai, Dubai, at”. Emporis. Retrieved March 1, 2007.
“Burj Dubai reaches a record high”. Emaar Properties. July 21, 2007. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
Keegan, Edward (October 15, 2006). “Adrian Smith Leaves SOM, Longtime Skidmore partner bucks retirement to start new firm”. ArchitectOnline. Retrieved March 23, 2009.
“Burj Dubai, Dubai –”. SkyscraperPage. Retrieved March 23, 2009.