In four years, UC Merced doubled in size and met its net-zero carbon goal ahead of schedule. That’s just the beginning.

Photo: Dave Burk © SOM

If you’ve driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco along Interstate 5 — that perfectly straight highway surrounded by open fields and farmland — then you have a sense for the vast horizons of California’s agrarian heartland, the San Joaquin Valley.

As part of the expansive Central Valley, which stretches some 450 miles through the interior of the state, it’s one the most productive growing regions in the world. …


Our annual architecture preview.

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…


What if architecture and urban design could function as an “immune system” for where we congregate?

It’s been a full year since the W.H.O. declared COVID-19 a pandemic, upending just about every facet of life around the world since. Thankfully, millions of people every day are now receiving their vaccines, bringing us closer to some semblance of “normal” again. But looking towards the future, we know that we may eventually face yet another pandemic. Medical researchers are testing treatments for a wide range of viral threats, aiming to mitigate the next outbreak before it starts. As designers of buildings and cities, can we be just as proactive? …


An architect‘s journey, from dance to design.

Hayley with her daughter at the Nishi Hongwanji Obon Festival in Los Angeles, 2019.

She spends her days designing buildings, but Hayley Saita hasn’t hung up her ballet shoes. In this edition of “Spotlight,” a series on personal and professional journeys, Hayley tells us what architecture and choreography have in common.

I never thought about becoming an architect as a kid. I started studying ballet when I was eight years old; it was all that I did outside of school. Most of all, I loved choreography. I would listen to music and draw little Xs on paper to show where the dancers would go. There are a lot of different ways to choreograph, but…


Photographer Wayne Thom and author Emily Bills discuss an under-appreciated era in architecture.

Inside the Bank of America data center in San Francisco, featuring a wall sculpture by Claire Kahn. (© Wayne Thom | The Monacelli Press)

When a renewed interest in Late Modernism arrives, there’s a good chance Wayne Thom’s photography will play a role in understanding the buildings that best represent the period.

Thom, now 87, began his prolific career in 1968. His work took him around the world but was mostly rooted in the U.S. West Coast; he was busiest through the 1970s and 80s. …


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

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.

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.

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

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.

Natural…


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

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…

SOM

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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