Archive for ‘SOM’

January 22, 2012

8 Washington Development | SOM Architects + PWP Landscape Architecture

 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and PWP Landscape Architecture shared with us their proposal for the 8 Washington development in downtown . The plans will continue the revitalization and support enjoyment of the historically under-utilized northeast waterfront by reconnecting the City with the Bay and providing housing and community amenities which include: dynamic pedestrian corridors linking Pacific Avenue and Jackson Street with The Embarcadero; a children’s play area featuring interactive sculptural gardens; an expanded health and aquatics center; cafés, restaurants and retail; and centralized underground public parking for the Ferry Building Waterfront Area. In total, the project will create 30,000 square feet of public open space and parks and an additional 40,000 square feet of private recreation space within a new fitness and outdoor aquatic center. With past projects including the redevelopment and rehabilitation of the historic Piers 1 ½, 3 and 5 just north of the Ferry Building as well as the transformation of Pier 24 into the country’s largest photography museum, San Francisco Waterfront Partners, and local development partner Pacific Waterfront Partners, possess a demonstrated commitment to excellence and a long-standing passion for the waterfront dating back 65 years.

Pacific Park, Children’s Play Area and Café

8 Washington will maximize the amount of family-oriented public recreational space available by converting the land area occupied by the current surface parking lot, a triangular piece of land on The Embarcadero at the corner of Washington Street, into a public park at the northern most end of the site which reconnects Pacific Avenue to The Embarcadero.

Addressing the neighborhood’s evolving demographics and need for active, programmed space for children, Pacific Park will feature a 4,500-square-foot play garden featuring climbable art sculptures and interactive water features. Three separate areas will target various age groups with design-savvy play spaces that reference materials from the nearby waterfront and the Coastal region. Public art will be interwoven throughout the site.

Designed by PWP Landscape Architecture, the topography of the new Pacific Park complements neighboring Sydney G. Walton Square Park which was designed by Peter Walker with SWA Group in 1968. Rolling lawns provide vistas out to the water and can be used for adults to lounge and kids to play. The park will be further activated by an adjacent café with outdoor seating which spills into the park, as well as additional café seating on the rooftop overlooking the Bay.

Dynamic New Pedestrian Corridors Enable Waterfront Access

The park wraps around the fitness and aquatic center via a newly expanded and improved Drumm Street Garden Walk and connects south to the proposed Jackson Commons, a dynamic pedestrian corridor which will link Jackson Street with The Embarcadero. In the redesign, Jackson Commons has been widened to strengthen the connection and views to the waterfront. The landscaped 6,650-square-foot space will be flanked to the north and south by cafes, restaurants, and retail.

A block north, Pacific Avenue will link Sydney G. Walton Square Park to the new 16,740-square-foot Pacific Park, and for the first time connect Pacific Avenue to The Embarcadero with both views and pedestrian access. Bolstered by open and airy landscaping and an overall wider space, the Drumm Street Garden Walk will serve as a north-south axis connecting Pacific Park to Sue Bierman Park.

Increased public access to and from The Embarcadero will allow San Franciscans to embrace the Bay in a manner that will radically transform the relationship between the adjacent city neighborhoods and the waterfront. A new system of parks and pathways will create a unified green network by linking multiple existing open spaces together and providing much needed connections to The Embarcadero, which were previously cut off.

Wider sidewalks, bicycle amenities, car share programs, and centralized underground public parking will improve both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the surrounding area. An active community of residents, restaurants, and retail will add to the safety and viability of the neighborhood by bringing more stakeholders and business to the neighborhood.

Community Recreation & Aquatics Health Center

The proposed plan replaces the existing private health facility with an enlarged and improved $12 million community recreation and aquatics club. As part of the proposed plans, the Health Center’s indoor fitness area will expand to 16,350 square feet from an existing 7,500 square feet. The new state-of-the art aquatics center will feature a 50 yard, 6,300-square foot outdoor pool that increases the existing pool area by more than 50 percent.

The striking triangulated design of the Health Center building includes a living green roof and living walls along The Embarcadero. Green roofs also top the majority of the proposed residential buildings, such that 35,000 square feet of green roofs are provided within the 8 Washington project. In addition to a positive impact on the LEED-certified project’s sustainability, the living roofs create a stunning view from neighboring buildings and enforce the network of green space created by 8 Washington. San Francisco Waterfront Partners’ commitment to the recreation facility – combined with the addition of public open space, which currently doesn’t exist on the site – dedicates over half of the land to recreation and park space and is one of the key community benefits of the 8 Washington proposal.

January 16, 2012

Al Hamra Firdous Tower | SOM

Named One of the Best Inventions of 2011 by Time Magazine, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s (SOM) Al Hamra Firdous Tower will be the tallest building in Kuwait. The iconic structure appears to fold into itself, creating an efficient form designed to maximize views and minimize solar heat gain. The commercial complex will be complete early this year and is comprised of offices, a health club and a high-end shopping mall with theaters and a food court. Continue reading for the architect’s project description.

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Client / Developer: Al Hamra Real Estate and Entertainment Co., Mr. Abdulaziz Alhumaidhi
Location: , Kuwait
Site Area: 10,000 m2
Size: 195,000 m2
Height: 412 m (74 stories)
Completion Year: 2011

Text provided by SOM. 

Rising 412 meters in the center of Kuwait City, Al Hamra Firdous Tower is a landmark tower of iconic sculptural form that offers breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf. The purity of its form, expressed by a simple operation of removal, will be a timeless, elegant marker in the heart of Kuwait.

With the aim of maximizing views and minimizing solar heat gain on the office floors, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower. The result reveals a rich, monolithic stone at the south wall framed by the graceful, twisting ribbons of torqued walls, defining the iconic form of the tower.

The building’s appearance resembles a subtle, elegant modern sculpture or an enshrouded figure with its delicate glass veil reflecting the profile of the peninsula. The resultant form will provide transparency on the north, east and west sides towards the Gulf and near-complete opacity side against the severe desert sun to the south.

The solid south wall is generated in order to decrease the solar radiation. Openings are based on the relationship of the envelope and its position in relation to the sun. The geometry of the interior wall is generated and responds to the need to minimize solar heat gain. This wall not only protects the building from critical environmental conditions, but also takes on the role of the structural spine of the building. The point at the apex of the tower not only resolves this complex geometry of the carved flared walls but also implies the continuation of the sculptural form infinitely upwards. On each floor of the tower a skybridge connects the two wings and presents a dramatic spatial experience with deep sculpted windows in the south wall providing dramatic views south towards the city, the peninsula and the infinite desert beyond.

The tower will welcome tenants with a soaring 20-meter tall lobby featuring a high articulated lamella structure which supports the tower above and articulates the space below. The geometry of the lobby area is generated by applying the principles of lamella structures. The structure provides continuity from the building to its footing and acts as a strengthening component while being completely integrated with the structure.

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Design Partner: Gary Haney, AIA
Managing Partner: Peter Magill, AIA
Technical Partner: Carl Galioto, FAIA
Project Manager: Donald R. Williams, AIA
Senior Designer: Aybars Asci, AIA
Senior Technical Coordinator: Mark Igou, AIA
Designer: Dean MacKenzie
Technical Coordinators: Samuel Ness, Eric Van Epps, James Mallory, Noppon Pisutharnon, Yasemin Kologlu, Souraya Daouk, Tobias Schwinn

Associate Architect: Al-Jazera Consultants

Structural Engineer: Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP
Structural Partner: Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathais
Senior Structural Engineer: Aarom Mazeika

MEP Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Director, MEP Engineering: Roger Frechette, PE, LEED AP
Senior Mechanical Engineer: Philip Sawyer
Senior Electrical Engineer: Ermenegildo Di Iorio
Mechanical Engineer: Michael Scotter

Project Manager: Turner Construction Co., International
General Contractor: Ahmadiah Contracting & Trading Co.
Telecom, Acoustics, Security, IT: Shen Milsom & Wilke
Vertical Transportation: Van Deusen & Associates
Facade Maintenance: Entek Engineering
Fire Protection: Arup
Geotechnical: Consultancy Group Company
Landscape: Francis Landscapes
Lighting: OVI (Office for Visual Interaction)
Traffic: Parsons Brinkerhoff

August 20, 2011

Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?

Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?

In Ho Chi Minh City, Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K (now owned by Perkins Eastman) are working on a 7.5 million-square-foot development dubbed Ma Lang Center.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Ho Chi Minh City, Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K (now owned by Perkins Eastman) are working on a 7.5 million-square-foot development dubbed Ma Lang Center.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
SOM has six projects in Vietnam, including Green Tech City, in Hanoi. The master plan features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
SOM has six projects in Vietnam, including Green Tech City, in Hanoi. The master plan features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Long Xuyen, which is on the Mekong Delta, EE&K has conceived a master plan that calls for transforming 470 rural acres into dense urban neighborhoods.
Image courtesy EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Long Xuyen, EE&K has proposed a multibuilding project for downtown.
Image courtesy EE&K, a Perkins Eastman company
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Perkins Eastman has conceived a 229-acre residential district that will be part of North An Khanh New City, a new mixed-use development in Hanoi designed to accommodate 30,000 inhabitants.
Image courtesy Perkins Eastman
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Perkins Eastman has conceived a 229-acre residential district that will be part of North An Khanh New City, a new mixed-use development in Hanoi designed to accommodate 30,000 inhabitants.
Image courtesy Perkins Eastman
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
Carlos Zapata Studio has designed a 450-room waterfront Marriott in Hanoi. The building, which resembles a crooked horseshoe if viewed from above, is now under construction.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
As this photo illustration shows, the 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower, completed in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City, features a helipad jutting like a diving board from its glass-walled upper stories. Carlos Zapata Studio designed the building.
Image courtesy Carlos Zapata Studio
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Danang, SOM has been tapped to design the master plan for FPT City (FPT is a telecommunications company). The 180-hectare mixed-use project features a town center, university campus, business district, and residential zones.
Image courtesy SOM
Is Vietnam the New Frontier for Architects?
In Danang, SOM has been tapped to design the master plan for FPT City (FPT is a telecommunications company). The 180-hectare mixed-use project features a town center, university campus, business district, and residential zones.
Image courtesy SOM
It might have been unthinkable as a place to do business just a few decades ago, when half of the country was at war with the United States. It doesn’t have the resources of China, its booming neighbor to the north. And its communist government might not appeal to citizens from capitalist nations.

But quietly, Vietnam has in recent years become a hot spot for many Western architects, as work in their home countries remains elusive. About two dozen North American and European firms now have projects in the Southeast Asian nation, including Foster + Partners, HOK, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). And some are opening permanent offices there, according to architects working in the country.

Vietnam is “starting to dip its toe into the pool with more Western buildings, because it wants to make a mark on the international scene,” says architect Anthony Montalto, a principal with Chicago-based Carlos Zapata Studio. “There is definitely an opportunity to try something fresh.”

Two of his firm’s buildings — reportedly among the first by U.S. designers to be built in Vietnam — appear strikingly different from the low-slung and boxy structures in the country’s cities. Its 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower, completed in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), features a helipad jutting like a diving board from its glass-walled upper stories. And in Hanoi, the firm’s 450-room waterfront Marriott, which resembles a crooked horseshoe if viewed from above, is now under construction.

Many of the opportunities in Vietnam entail urban planning. Unlike buildings, master plans do not require collaboration with licensed local architects, perhaps making them easier for Westerners to take on, according to sources.

HOK, for one, was recently hired by Sacom, a telecom and real estate company, to conceive a 27-acre development in Ho Chi Minh City (where the firm has a six-employee office, founded in 2009). Geared toward young professionals, the scheme features 1,600 homes and is crisscrossed by canals, says Tyler Meyr, an HOK senior associate. Like many projects in Vietnam, the Sacom development will be built on state-owned farmland, which is viewed as expendable now that the country is transitioning from agriculture to heavy industry, architects say.

The state, and the population at large, do not seem to bear a grudge against America, despite the fact that it conducted a decades-long war there, adds Meyr. “They are in a very optimistic time and thinking about the future rather than the past,” he says.

That upbeat mood can be explained partly by the influx of jobs due to foreign investment. With 87 million people, Vietnam is seen by many as a favorable place to locate factories because the labor force is comparatively cheap—about half that of manufacturing districts in China, according to World Bank figures. Intel, for one, opened a $1 billion semiconductor factory in the country last year. The United States’ normalization of trade within Vietnam in 2000 has also strengthened relations and spurred development, analysts say.

In turn, architects have come knocking, prompted by continued softness in the U.S. building industry. There are about a dozen American firms working in the southern city of Long Xuyen alone, explains architect Ming Wu, a design principal with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects (EE&K, now owned by Perkins Eastman). “Every day, more and more foreign architects are piling into Vietnam,” he says.

In Long Xuyen, which is on the Mekong Delta, EE&K has proposed a multibuilding project for downtown, in addition to conceiving a master plan that calls for transforming 470 rural acres into dense urban neighborhoods. Both schemes await approval.

EE&K is tapping into other cities, as well. In Ho Chi Minh City, it is working alongside Carlos Zapata on a mega-development dubbed Ma Lang Center. In Hanoi, the same team has created a master plan for a new 200-acre district called Hoang Mai Park City. British firms are showing up in Vietnam, too. Last fall, Foster + Partners broke ground on a bank complex in Hanoi.

One of the busier global firms in Vietnam might be SOM. It has six projects in the country, all master plans. It recently was tapped for Green Tech City, in Hanoi, which features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff, says Daniel Ringelstein, SOM director of urban design and planning.

Working in Vietnam does have its drawbacks. Projects don’t always pay competitive fees, and some cite systemic corruption in the awarding of contracts. Also, clients often emphasize cars over trains, meaning the country might repeat mistakes seen in the United States. “We’ve learned in the West that if you build more roads, it won’t solve traffic problems,” Ringelstein says. “It means more cars will come.”

By C. J. Hughes


July 3, 2011

Peter Ruggiero formerly Design Partner at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago joins HOK as Design Principal

Peter Ruggiero, AIA, joins HOK as Design Principal

HOK has just announced Peter Ruggiero, AIA as its new design principal. Recognised for meticulous design simplicity, sustainable logic, and highest-quality, efficient solutions, Peter’s work spans the globe – Asia, the Middle East, Russia, Europe and North America. Ruggiero’s design experience is all-encompassing ― commercial, corporate, education, transportation, municipal design and recently, large scale mixed-use programs, residential developments, and university research facilities. As Design Principal, Ruggiero will personally direct design teams for all Gulf Coast Region projects.

His notable projects include 7 World Trade Center, the first new building in lower Manhattan post 9/11 and catalyst for critical urban design plan decision that informed the WTC master plan; NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium; John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 4 to accommodate a significant portion of Delta Air Lines’ operations at JFK, as well as growth in the operations of other IAT carriers and Dulles International Airport main terminal expansion that has the potential to increase the annual passenger handling capacity up to 50 million passengers per year.

With 28 years of architectural design experience on marquee projects, Peter is recognised for his design simplicity, efficiency, and logic. His work is influenced by the simplicity of nature and the logic of industrial objects. Ruggiero, formerly Design Partner at Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, studied at New York Institute of Technology and Harvard Graduate School of Design and was adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, GSAPP from 1999-2003. He is a member of the Chicago Architectural Club, the American Institute of Architects, Architectural League of New York, The Municipal Society of New York, Urban Land Institute, Midwest High-Speed Rail Association and the Rice Design Alliance.

April 16, 2011

Chase Manhattan Plaza | SOM

LA p163 detail | © SOM

P150 SOM | Erich Locker

P152 SOM | Ezra Stoller © Esto

P155 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P156 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P161 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P160 SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P159B SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P159A SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P158B SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P158A SOM | © Alexandre Georges

P157 SOM | © George Zimbel

LA p162 elevation | © SOM

LA p161 plan | © SOM

P151&7 SOM | Erich Locker

Known for their innovation and economy in design, SOMs Chase  Plaza in the Financial District of Lower  displays SOMs architectural language on efficiency and its relationship with the public realm.  Completed in 1961, the 60 story skyscraper by Gordon Bunshaft of  is a coming of age story for Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill presence as an [inter]national leader of corporate architectural design that evokes efficiency and functionality.

Situated on Liberty Street, the Chase  building bridges two commercial properties between Nassau Street and Williams Street in Lower .  Rising 813 feet above the bustling streets of , the building is an exemplary project on efficiency where the slender tower only occupies 30% of the 2.5 acre site.  In effect creating one of the largest privately owned public spaces in  that are intended to create an oasis to relieve the congestion and density within the city.

Following in the footsteps of many prolific architects that have designed buildings for ’s dense urban fabric,  places the public space as a high priority in the design of the building just as Mies van der Rohe and Raymond Hood had done previously.

By allocating the majority of the allowable space to the public realm, the building is not solely become restricted to such tight constraints, rather the proportion of built to unbuilt space gives the Chase  building an iconic presence at the heart of the Financial District that becomes a central focal point for commerce and recreational activities to converge in one location.

The design of the Chase  building is relatively straightforward – slender tower with a repeated typical floor plan that optimizes efficiency and functionality on every level that allows for a completely flexible interior.

Echoing on the Inland  Building by Bruce Graham and Walter Netsch from SOMs Chicago office, the Chase  skyscraper places the columns on the exterior of the building while situating the core offset from the center to designate areas of spatial efficiency and flexibility. The offset core allows for offices to be placed on the northern part of the building while the south side of the building can be designed for flexible desk use and more collective gathering/work spaces.

The entire project over exaggerates efficiency and flexibility required for modern business in 20thCentury corporate America.

In terms of materiality, the Chase  building employed the most readily available and economic materials that were present at the time of construction.  The building is clad in anodized along with a  and  façade system.  The building was telling of how the International Style was creeping into American architecture.

The Chase  building is one of many examples from  that began to show the firms presence in modernism in corporate America where economy does not solely relate to a monetary value, but a temporal value where time is the ultimate factor in efficiency, flexibility, and corporate prosperity.

Architect: SOM

Team: J. Walter Severinghaus, Gordon Bunshaft, Alan Labie, Roy Allen, Jacques Guiton
Location:  City, 
Photographs: © 
References: SOM

April 9, 2011

Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Hostess House | SOM

Hostess_House_HB_7226F SOM, © Hedrich BlessingHostess_House_HB_7226E SOM, © Hedrich BlessingHostess_House_HB_7226B SOM, © Hedrich BlessingHostess_House_HB_7226H SOM, © Hedrich BlessingHostess_House_HB_7226C SOM, © Hedrich BlessingHostess_House_HB_7226A SOM, © Hedrich BlessingUSN Great Lakes Hotess_8 SOM, © Hedrich Blessing

As the first military project of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the  takes the form of a rectangle and stretches along a long narrow site. The diverse program includes a reading and writing room, reception room, lounge, terrace and offices.  is the only surviving World War II-era building designed by Gordon Bunshaft.

Containing recreation areas, lounges, a double fireplace, and a terrace,  is noted for its cantilevered roof and soaring wood-laminate trusses supported by steel columns at each end. This reception and recreation center at the , an early application of ’s mixed-use open-plan design approach, offered a welcoming, comfortable space for cadets who trained at the base during and after the Second World War.

Inside, the space could accommodate up to 3,000 visitors, and perforated metal screens could be repositioned to divide the recreation area. Designed for a narrow site facing a ravine, the structure’s exposed-beam ceiling, rich wood siding, and extensive glazing integrate with both the surrounding landscape and neighboring campus buildings.

Opened less than a year after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, today  is an elegant example of America’s rapid wartime industrialization.  designed and erected the graceful, economic structure in less than six months using an efficient, seven-day-a-week work schedule. Bunshaft finished the design—one of his first—immediately before he entered the Army in 1942.

After returning to , he went on to design several modern masterpieces (including the 1952 Lever House in New York and the 1963 Beinecke Library at Yale University in New Haven), and was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1988.

After both  and the nearby -designed Gunners’ Mates School fell into disrepair, the Navy considered possible demolition. Recognizing both buildings as outstanding examples of mid-century design, several organizations—including the AIA,  State Historic Preservation Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation Midwest, and Mies van der Rohe Society—participated in the campaign to preserve and restore the two campus buildings.  is now under consideration for future uses, including a possible Naval Museum.

Architect: Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill
Project Year: 1942
Photographs: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
References: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

March 8, 2011

The John Hancock Center | Bruce Graham

The John Hancock Center is “gutsy, masculine, and industrial; reflecting the tradition of Chicago, where structure is of the essence.” – Bruce Graham, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Location: Chicago, USA
Completion: 1969
Height: 344 m (1128 ft)
Height to tip: 457 m (1499 ft)
Stories: 100
Area: 260,126 sq m (1,214,530 sq ft)
Primary Use: Residential/Office
Owner/Developer: Jerry Wolman Associates
Architect: Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Structural Engineer: Skidmore Owings & Merrill
Contractor: Tishman Construction

Over forty years after completion, the John Hancock Center has established itself as one of the world’s most recognized skyscrapers and an iconic example of late 20th century Chicago design, construction and engineering. The building’s structural, programmatic and architectural innovations combine to create a design which has become a symbol of the city in which it exists.


Chicago 1969: the bustling city of over 3.3 million (nearly 700,000 larger than today’s city) celebrated the completion of the world’s second tallest building, the John Hancock Center. At 344 meters in height, the building also became the world’s second supertall (300 meter +) skyscraper to be completed (the first being New York’s 1931 Empire State Building). Historic not only in height, but also in the realms of tall building design, structural engineering, construction and architecture, the John Hancock Center is now one of the world’s most well-known tall buildings, and an integral piece of the Chicago skyline.

When builder/developer Jerry Wolman approached Chicago’s Skidmore, Owings and Merrill about the tower project, he had already obtained a site for the building. Located on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, along the “Magnificent Mile,” the area was, in the 1960’s, primarily populated by upscale residences and boutiques. Wolman, however, believed the neighborhood could support a mixed-use tower containing commercial, office, and residential components. The SOM team, led by Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan, proposed two potential tower schemes: a two-tower design consisting of separate office and residential buildings, and a single-tower, mixed-use option.

Figure 1. The Center’s facade

The single-tower scheme was advantageous in that it occupied a smaller portion of the site, allowing 60% of the block to be left open, and also encroached less upon the views of surrounding buildings. The site’s open area was designed as a simple urban plaza, something of an anomaly in Chicago’s dense downtown environment. Additionally, while the single-tower scheme’s significantly greater height would challenge designers, it would also allow the developer to advertise the project using the impressive slogan of “world’s highest residences.” Thus, the single-tower scheme was favored by both Wolman and the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, and was chosen to be developed and constructed.
As one of the world’s first mixed-use tall building projects, the John Hancock Center design was influential in its programmatic organization. The complex programmatic design placed commercial space on a sub-level concourse and the first five levels. This was followed by levels of parking, office, residential, and finally dining, observation, and broadcasting facilities.

The most difficult task for the designers of the John Hancock Center was the development of an acceptable structural system. While conventional structural methods available at the time could have technically achieved the desired 100-story tower, the high costs and low space-efficiency of such systems at significant heights were highly undesirable. Structural engineer Fazlur Khan therefore chose to employ a non-conventional structural system which combined a diagonal bracing and exterior column system to create a “trussed” or “bundled tube” structure. This system had been successfully implemented by Khan in Chicago’s DeWitt-Chestnut Apartments, but needed to be further advanced and developed to accommodate the John Hancock Center’s 100-story structure. The bundled tube system developed proved to significantly reduce steel usage while simultaneously increasing floor plan efficiency. The diagonal truss organization is clearly expressed in the façade, creating the building’s distinctive structural “X’s” on all four elevations.Due to soil conditions at the location of the Center and its proximity to Lake Michigan, caissons were sunk 190 ft into bedrock.  At the time, these were the deepest caissons employed in any building. At the height of construction, over 2,000 workers were involved in the project and its structure rose at a rate of three floors a day.
The architecture of the Center is informed by its expressive structural system and gentle sloping façades. This innovative form was designed to efficiently accommodate the large number of programs contained in the building. The gentle inward slope creates optimally-sized floor plans for both the lower parking and office levels and the tower’s higher residential floors, with the first level consisting of 47,000 sq ft while the roof is only 17,000 sq ft. Additionally, the tapered form significantly reduces wind loads and therefore allowed for a reduction of structural members. For Chicago’s busy streetscape, the Center’s sloping façades increase the visual verticality of the building; adding perceived height to an already impressively tall tower.

Figure 2. The Center’s tapered section and diminishing floorplans

The Center’s honest structural expression and simple tapering form, combined with its black aluminum cladding and extra-thick, glare-proof, bronze glass windowpanes create an architecture described by designer Bruce Graham as “Gutsy, masculine, and industrial; reflecting the tradition of Chicago, where structure is of the essence.”
Over forty years after completion, the John Hancock Center has established itself as one of the world’s most recognized skyscrapers and an iconic example of late 20th century Chicago design, construction and engineering. The building’s structural, programmatic and architectural innovations combine to create a design which has become a symbol of the city in which it exists.

Figure 3. Chicago Skyline

March 7, 2011

A question and answer session with HOK New York Managing Principal President Mr. Carl Galioto

Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Mr. Galioto, 57, is the managing principal of the New York office ofHOK, one of the world’s largest architecture firms. HOK New York’s current projects include LG Electronic’s headquarters in Englewood, N.J., and Harlem Hospital.

Mr. Galioto joined HOK in 2009, after 30 years with Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, where he helped design One and Seven World Trade Center.

Q Why did you leave S.O.M.?

A My focus at S.O.M. was on the technical elements of architecture and project delivery. I was interested in having a broader role in the management of an office and of a firm. I also wanted to work on building information modeling on a firmwide basis. So this is Chapter 2.

Q What are your duties at HOK?

A I have three principal jobs, and I like to joke that each takes up 30 hours a week.

One is being responsible for the financial management of the New York office and business development.

The other is to be the chair of our Project Delivery Board, which focuses on the documentation and management of projects firmwide. The third part is being a director of our Building Smart program, a platform for building information modeling.

Q What exactly is building information modeling?

A Essentially creating buildings in a virtual environment. We use a variety of applications to design buildings and to simulate the activities and operations.

Q Are you working on many projects?

A We have 25 to 30 projects in this office, which is up from last year.

Health care is the strongest of our components. We’re designing a number of hospitals, including the University Medical Center at Princeton, and Harlem Hospital.

One of the more interesting projects is the North American headquarters for LG Electronics. We also designed the Canon U.S.A. headquarters on Long Island and theBMW North America headquarters in New Jersey.

Q Was it your idea to move HOK’s New York headquarters to Midtown?

A One of my efforts has been to raise the visibility of HOK through the relocation to Bryant Park — really at the center of New York. Interestingly, our predecessor firm, Kahn & Jacobs, designed this building, so we were meant to be here.

We’re in a 12-year lease and made a very nice agreement with our landlord, Blackstone. We fit the space from a sustainable standpoint.

Q How so?

A We are tracking to be a LEED-platinum interior space, and one of the ways is through low-energy consumption.

We’ve reduced the energy consumption, attributable to lighting, by about 40 percent. Because of the daylight we could work with very low light levels here — most of the light in architects’ offices now is coming off computer screens. We have motorized shades with daylight sensors throughout the office.

We have low water consumption in the toilets, and each enclosed space has its own air control, so we don’t have to overcool or overheat the air. And, of course, all of the materials here have been carefully selected.

Q Are most of the projects you design sustainable?

A We go for silver, gold and platinum levels on projects we design, and we’re looking to exceed that. We are moving ahead with several designs for net-zero-carbon buildings. At HOK, the design of high-performance buildings is our design aesthetic.

Q Do you have a favorite architectural style?

A I’ve always had a fascination and appreciation for the Modernism of the midcentury — elegant and somewhat spartan — and I was fortunate to have worked on the restoration of Modern buildings, like the Lever House.

Q You also worked on One World Trade Center while at S.O.M.

A It was more than a project, because it was so meaningful to New Yorkers — not only for the symbolism but for the security of the occupants of that building.

But as an architectural element, it’s also significant and an important component of our skyline. The building is very symbolic, as you know: It rises to 1,368 feet, the same height as the original south tower, and with the mast reaches 1,776 feet. The base is 200 by 200 feet, the same dimensions as the old towers.

Q Did you always want to be an architect?

A Ever since I could remember. I remember being a very small boy at my grandparents’ backyard in Brooklyn and taking folding chairs, boxes and whatever I could find and piling them together in different shapes. I must’ve been like 4 or 5 and doing that sort of thing. I was always fascinated by the building process.


February 27, 2011

US Census Bureau Headquarters | SOM

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Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Location: Suitland, Maryland, 
Project team: David Childs, FAIA / Gary Haney, AIA / Peter Magill, AIA / Elias Moubayed / Anthony Fieldman, AIA / Rod Garrett, AIA / Mark Igou, AIA / Aybars Asci, AIA / Kim Van Holsbeke / Takuya Yamauchi / Magd Fahmy / Noppon Psjutharnon / Devawongs Devakul Na Ayudhya / Joyce Ip / Michael Carline
Interior Design Team: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP: Stephen Apking, AIA / Peter Magill, AIA / Nazila Shabestari Duran, AIA / Nestor Santa-Cruz / Donald Holt / Dale Greenwald / Nicholas Cotton / Mary Broaddus / Catherine Haley / Cynthia Mirbach / Elizabeth Marr, AIA / Amber Giacometti / Ya Ching Hsueh / Celine Jeanne / Jennifer Lee / Ashley O’Neill / Michele Pate / Jeremy Singer
Total Building Area: 2.5 million gross square feet
Project Cost: $331 million (total of two phases)
Project year: 2004-2007
Photographs: Eduard Hueber/Arch Photo, Inc. / Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Client/Owner: U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
Tenant: U.S. Census Bureau
Structural Engineers: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Design Civil Engineer: Wiles Mensch Corporation
M/E/P Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Design/Build Contractor: Skanska  Building Inc.
Design/Build Architect: HKS Architects, Inc. (Architect of Record)
Design/Build Structural Engineer: Walter P. Moore & Associates
Design/Build M/E/P Engineer: Soutland Industries / GHT Limited
Design/Build Civil Engineer: A. Morton Thomas and Associates
Associate Interior Architect: Metropolitan Architects & Planners (Programming and Space Planning)
Construction Manager: DMJM/Heery a Joint Venture
Planning/Landscape & Environmental Analysis: EDAW, Inc.
Fire Protection: Rolf Jenson & Associates
Cost Estimating: Project Management Services, Inc.
Vertical Transportation: Lerch, Bates & Associates, Inc.
Curtain Wall Consultant: CDC, Inc.
Security: Sako & Associates
Parking: Carl Walker, Inc.
Blast: Hinman Consulting Engineers
Food Services: Hopkins Food Specialist, Inc.
Lighting Design: Domingo Gonzalez Associates (base building) / Cline, Bettridge, Bernstein Lighting Design (interiors)
Telecommunications: Shen Milsom & Wilke
Audio, Visual & Acoustical: Polysonics, Inc.

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Background & Overview

Situated on 80 wooded acres of the Suitland Federal Center near downtown Washington, D.C., the new 2.5-million-square-foot headquarters for the U.S. Census Bureau houses all the Bureau’s 6,000 employees. The Bureau’s previous workplace model was a 1930s ideal with offices arranged along long corridors – a model so highly codified for government workplaces that entire building typologies (finger buildings, etc) were created to accommodate the idea. ’s goal in designing this new headquarters for Census was to bring the very best and latest thinking on architecture and the corporate workplace from the business world and apply it to a government agency.

To minimize this necessarily large building’s presence in its natural setting, the design team limited the office program to eight stories of height and used a variety of other architectural and sustainable-design strategies to reduce the real and perceived impact on the site. In the end, the large corporate campus explores an architectural expression that celebrates and heightens its relationship to the landscape.

Given the size of the building and the need to update the Bureau’s organizational system,  had to develop a series of innovative techniques for the architecture, space planning and way finding. Also included in the program is an assortment of amenities, such as medical facilities, library, an auditorium, dining area, a credit union, and a gymnasium.

Architecture and Sustainability

Due to the shear size of the project and the sensitivity of the site, a unique, holistic architectural language was developed. Sustainability was interpreted in formal as well as mechanical terms. Two separate buildings grow from one single mass, cleaved apart to create a central garden that integrates the building with its landscape, while maintaining one cohesive vision.

By eroding the mass, and developing materials to camouflage the edges of the enclosure, developed a concept that breaks down the enormous scale of this building, makes it permeable and blurs the boundaries between building and landscape. The curved office buildings have two enclosures. The outside edges that face the woods are covered in a brise soleil of laminated, wooden pieces that create dappled patterns of shadow and warm light inside the offices, suggesting a forest interior. Their size and frequency is determined by the scale of the human body; occupants can view the exterior clearly while being shielded from the sun. The FSC-certified  – marine-grade, white oak – is harvested according to sustainable guidelines.

Underlying this “ veil” is a system of green tinted precast spandrels and glazed vision panels that match the cast of the landscape. The inside edges that face the courtyard are bare and fully glazed to maximize daylight. A finely fritted veil of curving lines echoes the wooden sunshades.

The façade of the building that faces the central courtyard has large windows strategically placed at intervals which protrude from or are recessed into the building. Clad in Brazilian Ipe, these windows indicate the location of support nodes, containing office-related spaces such as lounges, conference meeting areas, etc. – program elements that support the work areas. Sunlight and views to the landscaped courtyard penetrate the building at these locations.

The adjacent parking garages are sheathed in a green, wire armature for ivy. When fully grown, this “ivy veil” will comprise a ‘skin’ of leaves that filter light, increase oxygen content within the garages, and allow for natural ventilation.

To achieve a silver rating from LEED, the designers incorporated many other sustainable techniques, including water reclamation, recycled building materials, minimal energy consumption and natural daylighting into the design. In addition to these prescribed sustainability measures, the building’s shape, massing, and cladding create a new language for sustainable architecture.

With its -clad offices and ivy-draped parking structures, the Census Bureau blurs the distinction between the building and landscape by camouflaging both the structures and their scales.


The interiors team worked very closely with the architectural team to create one fluid space, despite the fact that the structures are divided both in plan and in terms of phasing. First, the client’s program requirements were analyzed to develop criteria for the interior architecture and base-building design. At a macro level, the anticipated sizes for user groups determined the logical break points in the massing between the two buildings. At the floor scale, a scheme was developed to determine the lease span depth and the location of support areas, as well as a concept for the shared nodes, located in the window boxes. Other criteria developed during this analysis include ceiling heights, loading requirements, long-span construction and environmental criteria. As the base building design developed, the interiors group rigorously tested each proposed scenario for compliance with the established standards.

Not only did the building need to comply with the area requirements, it had to be carefully planned to provide a functional and efficient workplace for the Bureau’s employees. After researching international best practices in office spaces, the interior team selected an open office plan that brings in optimum natural light – a fairly major change for a government agency. Throughout the entire building, open workspaces with low partitions surround the perimeter to allow for natural light exposure and easy communication. Offices with glass fronts and internal support rooms are located in the core, easily accessible to each work group.

For maximum flexibility, the work areas can be organized either horizontally or vertically. However, most directorates are organized in a series of two story units, each with similar components, but adaptable to the mission-specific requirements of each directorate. The units are connected vertically by an internal stairway linked to support nodes. These nodes provide pantries, lounges, copy centers and gathering spaces, where employees can have chance meetings with their colleagues.

Lastly, the team developed and employed three major unifying and wayfinding concepts: the Street, the Boxes and the Color Spectrum. The Street is the main passageway to access the amenities, such as the café, the fitness center, the auditorium, etc. – in effect making it the public highway through the campus. Special attention was paid to drawing the maximum amount of natural light into this underground area – by providing views of the outside through portals. Reiterating the subterranean level of the Street, it is lined with a tectonic rockwall, which hides service stations and activates this public space, and is illuminated by spectrum lighting from one end to the other. . The amenities off the Street are housed in individual Boxes, branching off the core of the building and engaging the surrounding landscape.

The Color Spectrum is the final element that pulls the campus together. Based on the Bureau’s desire to incorporate nature into the building, the color scheme was designed to resonate from natural hues and sun lighting into vibrant, energetic colors. Color tones in the areas near the curtain wall are calm and natural, since the exterior acts as a natural way finding mechanism. However, when one travels towards the core of the building, the support nodes and the Street, bright, vibrant colors are used as a graphic, spatial tool. Further, the color schemes differ both horizontally and vertically. As one passes from one end of the building to the other, the color spectrum is revealed horizontally. In addition, as one passes from the ground floor to the top floor, the patterns in elevator corridors become darker and increasingly prominent.







February 5, 2011

create ‘comfortable urban micro-climates’ by SOM

SOM designs sustainable district in Vietnam
Hanoi is to receive a highly sustainable urban district courtesy of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) following an international competition for the Green Tech City project, instigated by Blenheim Properties. The masterplan drawn up by SOM intertwines elements of local culture and urban heritage with state of the art design methods which aim to reduce the demand for non-renewable resources.

Combining two existing villages, the design covers an area of 145 hectares with the capacity to serve an urban population of more than 20,000. A Cultural Forum complex forms a social anchor for the low-rise, pedestrian friendly residential development, acting as a central meeting space in addition to the extensive network of schools, healthcare clinics, and sports and leisure facilities. The Cultural Forum will house an auditorium, TV studio, art gallery, mediateque and various dining amenities.

An existing system of agricultural water channels are to be reorganised into an interconnected network of landscaped waterways. This in turn will aid the production of green public spaces whilst managing flood control, preventing rainwater runoff, filtering and cleansing greywater and providing a source for irrigating new viticulture activities.

Throughout the entire district, the latest technology in carbon emissions reduction, energy needs reduction and smart infrastructure will be employed in an active effort to produce a highly sustainable and eco-friendly urban borough. During the design process, SOM conducted extensive wind and solar analyses to determine the optimal orientation of streets and buildings in order to create ‘comfortable urban micro-climates’. Elements of canal water cooling, tri-generation plants, waste recycling and rainwater harvesting have also been incorporated into the design.