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Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP (SOM) is a Chicagomarker-based architectural and engineering firm that was formed in 1936 by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel Owings; in 1939 they were joined by John O. Merrill. They opened their first branch in New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker in 1937. SOM is one of the largest architectural firms in the world. Their primary expertise is in high-end commercial buildings, as it was SOM that led the way to the widespread use of the modern international-style or "glass box" skyscraper. SOM provides services in Architecture, Building Services/MEP Engineering, Digital Design, Graphics, Interior Design, Structural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Sustainable Design and Urban Design & Planning.


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 Housemarker (1952), also in New York City; as well as the Air Force Academy Chapel (1958) in Colorado Springsmarker, Coloradomarker; and the John Hancock Centermarker (1969) and Willis Towermarker (1973), both in Chicagomarker.

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 an 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”.


Well-known SOM architects include: Gordon Bunshaft, Natalie de Blois, Myron Goldsmith, Bruce Graham, Gertrude Kerbis, Walter Netsch, Pietro Belluschi, Adrian Smith, Ferdinand Gottlieb, Larry Oltmanns, and David Childs.


The earliest amongst the many SOM engineers was John O. Merrill. 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 constructions of the Willis Towermarker and John Hancock Centermarker and for his designs of structural systems that remain fundamental to all high-rise skyscrapers. Indeed, Khan is responsible for developing the algorithms that made the Hancock building and many subsequent skyscrapers possible.

Interior designers

Davis Allen, a pioneer in corporate interior design, had a forty-year tenure at SOM.


SOM has completed over 10,000 projects around the nation and in more than 50 countries around the world and maintains offices in Chicagomarker, New York Citymarker, San Franciscomarker, Washington, D.C.marker, Londonmarker, Brusselsmarker, Hong Kongmarker, and Shanghai.


Throughout its history, SOM has been recognized with more than 800 awards for quality and innovation. More than 125 of these awards have been received since 1998. In 1996 and 1962, SOM received the American Institute of Architectsmarker Firm Award, which recognizes the design work of an entire firm. SOM is the only firm to have received this honor twice.

In 2009, SOM received four of 13 R+D Awards from Architect Magazine. In addition, a collaboration between SOM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutemarker, The Center for Architecture, Science & Ecology, was honored with a fifth award.

Burj Dubai

In 2004, SOM broke ground on the world's tallest manmade structure in history up to this point, the Burj Dubaimarker, in Dubai, UAE. It is scheduled to open in December 2009.

One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower)

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.

Planning work

In addition to architectural services, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill has also competed in the field of large scale planning programs. 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. They have recently designed the Freedom Towermarker in New York City and the Burj Dubaimarker in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Notable SOM buildings

Buildings under construction


External links

Related Links

William F. Baker ;David Childs;Roger Duffy;T.J. Gottesdiener;Craig Hartman;Ross Wimer;

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