Projects to Watch in 2023
Our annual architecture, engineering, and urban design preview
2023 will bring major milestones to celebrate around the globe, from a groundbreaking in Berkeley to an airport opening in Bengaluru. This year’s list is characteristically varied, yet it highlights some of the values and threads of inquiry that underpin our work: a commitment to strengthening cities and communities through equitable urban design; developing new design and engineering strategies to reduce the carbon impact of construction; and prioritizing human health and well-being.
The coming year will see completions big and small — including a superlative tower in Gothenburg that anchors a broader urban regeneration, and the deployment of public bus shelters across high-need neighborhoods in Los Angeles. In India, a uniquely verdant airport terminal will welcome its first commercial passengers. Other exciting work is just beginning to be visible, with groundbreaking scheduled for the adaptive reuse and expansion of a historic hotel in Melbourne, among others.
All of these projects demonstrate solutions to reduce both operational and embodied carbon emissions, from a new civic building in California that serves as a model for mass timber construction, to a community-driven project in Chicago designed to achieve net-zero whole-life carbon. A focus on health and well-being is likewise a common thread , linking such diverse designs as a singular workplace in Shenzhen and a hospital in Atlanta that introduces a new model for patient care.
These, of course, are just the highlights. We are excited about all that the year ahead will bring!
A pair of elevated bridges will link new Manhattan developments
High Line — Moynihan Train Hall Connector | New York, New York
Over the past decade, SOM has played a major role in reshaping Manhattan’s West Side: With the recent completion of of Moynihan Train Hall and the new developments at Manhattan West and Hudson Yards, the district has emerged as a mixed-use destination, connected with transportation infrastructure and a series of civic spaces. Next year, a pair of elevated pedestrian bridges will bring this work together, connecting the district to the High Line park.
Designed with James Corner Field Operations, this new connector creates a linear park in two segments, each with their own distinctive design. The Timber Bridge, a truss made of sustainably sourced glulam wood, demonstrates the structural possibilities of this low-carbon material. Linked to this bridge at a right angle, the Woodland Bridge offers a tree-lined pathway into the immersive landscaped environment of the High Line. The Moynihan Connector is a public-private partnership between Empire State Development, Brookfield Properties, and the High Line.
A record-setting tower heralds the revitalization of a city’s waterfront
Karlatornet | Gothenburg, Sweden
Last year, this striking new high-rise in the Swedish seaport city of Gothenburg became the city’s tallest structure, and it continues to climb. Karlatornet’s signature mid-rise twist has begun to emerge, with each new floor rotated slightly from the one below to produce varied views above the riverfront — the result of close collaboration between our architecture and structural engineering teams. When the tower reaches its full height of 246 meters next year, it will set a new record for Scandinavia, and a public observation deck at the top will offer the highest vantage point in the region.
Rising in a formerly industrial area that was once home to thriving shipyards, the building is part of a larger regeneration scheme that will see the creation of a mixed-use district, signaling a new chapter for sustainable urban development in Gothenburg. Residents will begin moving in to Karlatornet next year, while the tower is scheduled to be fully complete in 2024.
A historic hotel gains a striking contemporary addition
189 Toorak Road | Melbourne, Australia
We are reimagining Melbourne’s historic Hotel Claremont as a mixed-use anchor for a thriving retail corridor. Sensitively integrating old and new elements, the project involves a careful restoration of the building’s 19th-century facade and an 11-story addition that will introduce contemporary workspaces.
Designed as a series of cascading terraces, the addition provides outdoor areas that integrate nature into the work environment. The expressive design of the facade, an efficient structure that minimizes materials, reflects a holistic approach to reducing the carbon impact of construction. Work is due to begin in late 2023.
A new model for healthcare makes its debut
Winship at Emory Midtown | Atlanta, Georgia
In May of next year, a leading hospital campus will inaugurate a new facility with a design as revolutionary as the medical breakthroughs that are transforming the field. The new Winship at Emory Midtown is arranged not around equipment and departments, but instead broken down into two-story “care communities,” each focused on a specific treatment. While this may seem like a simple change, it’s a complete reinvention of the building type. Each of these communities will function like a hospital-within-a-hospital, making care more efficient and uniting patients and visitors with similar experiences.
The layout of the 18-story building is innovative as well: it turns much of the typical hospital floor plan inside out. With light-filled corridors along the perimeter, and exam rooms and clinical space in the center of the floor, Winship provides daylit and spacious common areas, while clinicians benefit from an efficient, centralized layout that encourages collaboration.
A prominent campus building is transformed for a new era of learning
UC Berkeley Bechtel Engineering Center | Berkeley, California
Located on UC Berkeley’s Central Glade, the renovation and expansion of Bechtel Engineering Center will create a new “front door” for the College of Engineering community. The design addresses the challenges of building on top of an existing structure in a way that speaks to the importance of engineering in our lives, while honoring the surrounding Beaux-Arts-style buildings that form the campus core.
Our design and engineering solution leverages existing structural and infrastructure systems as a basis for the renovation and addition, optimizing both for sustainability and cost considerations. A new lightweight pavilion structure mediates between the existing 80s-era Brutalist building and its neoclassical neighbors, while also expanding the Center’s current role as a community hub with study areas, an auditorium, library, and student services offices by adding 35,500 gross square feet of new program space. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place in April 2023.
A new arts destination emerges in the Midwest
Mulva Cultural Center | De Pere, Wisconsin
Philanthropists James J. and Miriam B. Mulva are transforming their hometown of De Pere, Wisconsin — five miles upriver from Green Bay — into a regional arts destination. Our design for the Mulva Cultural Center is at once contemporary and context-specific, taking advantage of a site on the eastern banks of the Fox River, at the foot of the Claude Allouez Bridge, where it will bring new energy to the city’s walkable downtown district when it opens next fall.
The new arts and community hub will host traveling shows from leading institutions worldwide alongside cultural programming and educational opportunities for people of all ages. The elegant glass building brings the outside in and vice versa, featuring a triple-height atrium, a 200-seat auditorium, an event space, flexible permanent and temporary exhibition galleries, classrooms, common areas, a café, and an outdoor terrace.
The Mulva Cultural Center also showcases our signature integration of architecture and engineering: the building’s cantilevered canopy is designed to maximize daylight with a minimum of materials, while the material palette of limestone, timber, and triple-insulated glass takes inspiration from the river and Wisconsin prairies.
A timber building sets the benchmark for sustainable civic architecture
San Mateo County Office Building 3 | Redwood City, California
An ambitious construction project in the heart of Silicon Valley may very well set the pace for a new generation of low-carbon buildings. San Mateo County’s new office building (called COB3) is the first net-zero-energy civic building in the United States that is constructed with mass timber.
Timber has become an emblem for sustainable architecture for its low carbon footprint, and new legislation has facilitated its deployment in California in recent years. San Mateo County aimed to set an example with its own building project, in terms of both the building’s operational energy use and the carbon impact of its construction.
By using timber, a renewable material that can be sourced domestically, the design of the new County Office Building achieves an 85 percent reduction in structural embodied carbon relative to conventional concrete or steel construction. The use of prefabricated timber components has made the construction process faster and more precise than conventional building processes.
Civic architecture is built to endure for generations, and when purposefully designed, helps to define a municipality’s identity. Due to open in the fall of 2023, the new County Office Building will become the new centerpiece of a revitalized downtown.
A cutting-edge building tackles public health issues on multiple fronts
SMOOTH House | St. Louis, Missouri
Public health and sustainability present challenges at many scales, and a new project shows how thoughtful design solutions can intersect within a single building. Over the last two years, SOM has collaborated with architecture students and faculty from Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts to design a new Smart Home for Occupational Therapy Healing, a.k.a. SMOOTH House.
Working closely with medical faculty and professionals from WashU’s School of Medicine, who will be the end users alongside their patients, the student-led team has designed a practice-based educational facility to deliver pro bono community-based care to underserved residents in north St. Louis. With roof-mounted solar panels and energy-efficient materials, the SMOOTH House is designed to achieve net zero carbon not only in its operations, but also in terms of embodied carbon — emissions from its materials and construction — within three years of its completion.
As a contender in the Solar Decathlon 2023 Build Challenge, SMOOTH House is one of 20 projects selected to be built, having broken ground in St. Louis’ burgeoning Delmar Maker District in November. It is slated for completion in March 2023, when it will be exhibited to the public and presented to the Solar Decathlon jury.
Bringing shade to LA’s bus stops
Los Angeles Sidewalk and Transit Amenities Program | Los Angeles, California
Often synonymous with car culture in the popular imagination, Los Angeles in fact has an extensive public transportation network with the third-highest ridership in the nation. However, many places in the city lack adequate bus shelters, which is not only an equity issue but also poses an urgent challenge in the context of a warming climate. A new program led by StreetsLA, a division of the city’s Department of Public Works, will improve the transit experience for the hundreds of thousands of Angelenos who rely on city buses every day.
SOM has designed a new system of bus infrastructure that will be installed across Los Angeles over the next ten years. The new shelters will be deployed in the communities that have the highest need — based on the city’s equity index, heat index, and ridership data. Designed with a kit-of-parts approach, the new shelters can be scaled up or down to meet specific site conditions, and customized with different colors, graphics, and configurations to reflect their surrounding neighborhoods. The first prototypes will hit the streets in the coming year.
A workplace where sustainability and well-being go hand-in-hand
WeBank Headquarters | Shenzhen, China
Construction is well underway on a tower in Shenzhen that puts forward a model for a healthy, sustainable workplace. The new headquarters for WeBank, the first privately-owned and digital-only bank in China, features planted terraces and gardens, indoor-outdoor spaces, and a range of high performance design strategies designed to boost both the building’s energy performance and the experience of the people who use it.
Tuned to the local climate, the design includes solar-responsive facades that minimize indoor heat gain. The terraces bring daylight as well as natural ventilation into the building, while a rooftop garden will harvest rainwater for the irrigation of indoor plants. Providing a connection to nature, these spaces, together with amenities including a gym and a sky pool, promote a culture focused on employee health and wellness. Flexible workspaces will promote interaction and knowledge sharing between departments, while allowing for future adaptability. Merging digital enterprise with the natural environment, the project embodies the company’s vision of finance and technology in an increasingly connected world.
India’s new “terminal in a garden” turns an airport into an oasis
Kempegowda International Airport — Terminal 2 | Bengaluru, India
For years, SOM has designed airports that transcend functional requirements to create a travel experience that conveys an unmistakable sense of place. Nearly a decade since the opening of Terminal 2 at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport — acclaimed for its design that is deeply resonant with Indian heritage and culture — work is nearly complete on our second major airport terminal in India.
The new terminal at Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, will create a radically different experience for passengers departing and arriving in India’s third largest metropolis. Conceived as a “terminal in a garden” — a reference to Bengaluru’s reputation as the “garden city” — the complex consists of a set of interconnected buildings tied together by a continuous band of verdant outdoor spaces. This lush “forest belt” landscape is replete with indigenous flora, multilevel meandering paths, and two-story pavilions that are clad in bamboo. A network of bridges and outdoor walkways will provide departing passengers with a reflective, calming oasis within the bustle of an international airport. Inside, the terminal will be suffused with light filtered through bamboo lattices, while a variety of hanging plantings contribute to a rich sensory environment. Scheduled for an early 2023 opening, the new terminal will soon welcome its first international travelers.