Our annual architecture preview.

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The roof terrace at 800 Fulton will offer new views above Chicago. Image © SOM

The year 2020 has defied every expectation — and yet, thankfully, our work continues. As our design teams have adapted (fashioning workspaces out of bedrooms, screen shares replacing pin-up boards, etc.) the distances between Los Angeles, Chicago, and London have never seemed shorter. Even while being physically apart from our colleagues and clients, we’ve invented new, meaningful ways to collaborate. Our work has kept us inspired and focused on the future.

With construction advancing on airport terminals, creative offices, and arts venues, we eagerly await a return to routines once taken for granted. Meanwhile, we’re grateful to contribute to projects…

From an exhibition to an entire museum, a Los Angeles-based designer finds the opportunity to learn at every scale.

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All images courtesy Jad Ismail, unless otherwise cited.

Having joined our L.A. office first as a summer intern and then as a full-time designer, Jad Ismail is now part of the team working on LACMA, the largest museum in the city he now calls home. For this edition of “Spotlight,” a series on personal and professional journeys at SOM, Jad shares his thoughts on how architecture shapes our lives every day.

I’m the youngest of five children. The second oldest, my sister, is an architect as well. I saw her going through architecture school and I remember being so amazed by what she did. …

A budding architectural designer finds the chance to work on two New York City icons.

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Photo courtesy Adede Amenyah

Since joining SOM’s New York office just over two years ago, Adede Amenyah has worked on the design and renovation of two of the city’s most iconic and storied buildings — the historic Farley Post Office (soon to open as Moynihan Train Hall) and the reimagined Waldorf Astoria. That’s just the beginning of her ongoing architectural education. In the next profile in our Spotlight series, Adede tells us why every day on the job offers a new chance to learn.

In my last year of architecture school, I took a studio course called “Super-Tall” led by Nicole Dosso, who at…

Two of our designers have big ideas about reviving mid-century landmarks.

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SOM replaced Lever House’s original curtain wall in 2001 with a state-of-the-art facade that set a new precedent for the preservation of 20th-century architecture. (Photos © Ezra Stoller | ESTO and © Florian Holzherr)

Earlier this year, two members of our New York team contributed an article to Architecture Philosophy, the journal of the International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture (ISPA). In the piece, Frank Mahan and Van Kluytenaar reflect on SOM’s work preserving, renovating, and adapting the firm’s own iconic mid-century projects. The practice of adaptive reuse, it turns out, raises a number of thorny questions: What does it mean to modify an existing building to serve in the present? And what, exactly, confers a building’s historic value?

Nearly 20 years ago, SOM took on the task to replace and restore Lever…

Designers, builders, and government must work toward the same goal — our lives depend on it.

by Kent Jackson

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The University of California, Merced campus is designed to achieve net-zero emissions, energy use, and waste by 2020—well ahead of California’s already ambitious statewide targets. Photo: Dave Burk © SOM

The climate crisis is no longer a distant alarm — it’s already becoming an immediate reality. As wildfires rage on the west coast of the United States, millions of residents are breathing polluted air. The scenes of devastation recall the unprecedented brushfires we witnessed in Australia last year. Floodwaters from a record hurricane season inundate cities and towns in the southeastern U.S., while earlier this month Japan and Korea were battered by two of the earliest and strongest typhoons on record. Here in the U.K., increased flooding now places one in six homes, or 2.4 million people, at risk.


An architect, mentor, and community builder shares her story.

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Photo © Danielle Campbell | SOM

Right out of architecture school, Ingedia Sanchez landed on the design team for the world’s tallest building. Since joining SOM in 2003, her career has been a steady rise. In addition to her work as a technical architect, Ingedia is a mentor and community leader. In July she was elected the president of the nonprofit organization Arquitectos; she is the first licensed woman architect to hold this role.

I’m a technical architect in our Chicago office. My role is to take a project from the later stages of schematic design through construction administration, coordinating with consultants and with the client…

A Chicago-based designer shares how she got her start.

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Morgynn Wiley in SOM’s Chicago office. Photo © SOM

Chicago native Morgynn Wiley got a head start as a summer intern at SOM, hit the ground running out of architecture school, and hasn’t broken stride since. For the first profile in our Spotlight series, Morgynn takes a break from her design job to tell us about working in her hometown, the opportunities she’s found as an entry-level designer, and why one portfolio does not fit all.

I’ve been working full time at SOM for a little over two years; it’s my first job out of architecture school. …

Flights are canceled, but Jeddah’s architectural masterpiece endures—and its design is newly relevant for the pandemic era.

by Derek A. R. Moore

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Photo © Jay Langlois | Owens-Corning

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended all of life’s rituals and routines — great and small, sacred and secular. So, the news in late June that the Hajj — the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina that is one of the “five pillars” of the faith, and considered an obligation for those physically and financially capable to make once in their lifetime—would be canceled came as a surprise to probably no one, although it certainly disappointed millions of Muslims and others around the world.

Since 1981, the world’s gateway to the holy cities has been the Hajj Terminal at Abdul…

What we’ve learned from the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Chicago’s Millennium Park, pictured in 2012. Photo © Vito Palmisano

What does inclusive design mean today? When it comes to buildings and public spaces, equal access has not only become expected — it’s written into law.

Thirty years ago, a landmark civil rights legislation was passed that would forever change architecture and urban design in the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed on July 26, 1990, aimed to guarantee equal rights for 40 million Americans living with physical and mental disabilities.

Born out of a grassroots movement, the ADA barred discrimination in many areas of life, including employment, schools, transportation, and public services. …

Recession-tested professionals offer advice for the Class of 2020

For students graduating this year with the global economy on pause, “commencement” might feel more like entering limbo. But while today’s crisis is unique, it’s not the first recession within memory. Many architects and designers at SOM have faced periods of uncertainty and often learned valuable lessons along the way. We asked them to share their stories.

Houston Drum

Associate, Los Angeles

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I finished grad school in 2009, right in the heat of the Great Recession. After searching for work for 10 months, I was ready to accept anything. A lot of my classmates weren’t able to find work for another year…


We are a collective of architects, designers, engineers, and planners building a better future. To learn more, visit www.som.com.

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