CTBUH Member in Focus: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

In the last week of our Member Appreciation Month, we showcase one of CTBUH’s longest-standing members, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). A member since 1977, SOM is headquartered in Chicago with offices across the globe and has been a leader in the research and development of specialized technologies, new processes, and innovative ideas for high-rise design in cities across the world. Their 87-year legacy includes such superlative structures as the 347.3-meter 875 North Michigan Ave building in Chicago (formerly called the John Hancock Center, with engineering design by Fazlur Khan, CTBUH Chairman 1979–82) and the 828-meter Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, which have become firmly established in the tall-building lexicon.

SOM continues to innovate with a focus on climate action and developing research and building solutions for a net-zero future with building proposals like Urban Sequoia and 8 Shenton Way, in Singapore. 

875 N Michigan Ave (formerly the John Hancock Center) in Chicago was completed in 1969. Image by Marshall Gerometta 

What If Our Cities Could Be More Like Forests?

SOM’s Urban Sequoia is a concept for buildings and their urban context to absorb carbon at an unprecedented rate. “Urban Sequoia is a systems approach, a philosophy,” says Sustainable Practice Director Mina Hasman. “It is a way of thinking about cities as ecologies, as living and breathing systems that can be reconfigured to achieve dramatic reductions in whole life carbon, reframing the built environment as a solution for the climate crisis.”

Urban Sequoia proposal. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
8 Shenton Way, Singapore. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill


Singapore’s Next Tall Sustainable Tower

8 Shenton Way is inspired by bamboo forests, echoing the verticality and biophilic elements found in nature to reduce embodied and operational carbon. “Designed specifically with the tropical climate of Singapore in mind, this building will be one of the first post-pandemic mixed-use towers in the world, incorporating health and wellness as its primary design drivers, while achieving one of the most demanding sustainability certifications in the region.” says Design Principal Nic Medrano.

A Collective Path Forward

“The Council is, without any question, the world’s leading platform for sharing ideas and research on the tall building typology,” adds CTBUH Trustee and Design Partner Scott Duncan. “CTBUH conferences and publications are unparalleled resources for our architects, engineers and planning teams to reference as we shape cities and skylines around the world.”

Current CTBUH Leaders: 

*Scott Duncan, Partner, Chicago | CTBUH Board of Trustees

Joyce Lam, Director, Hong Kong | CTBUH Awards Jury 2023

*Luke Leung, Principal, Chicago | CTBUH MEP Systems Committee

*Aaron Mazeika, Structural Engineering Principal, Chicago | CTBUH Skybridges Research Steering Committee

Sukriye (Rae) Robinson, Associate, London | CTBUH UK Chapter, Board Member

*Yue Zhu, Principal, Chicago | CTBUH Chicago Chapter, Board Member


*CTBUH Designated Experts:

William Baker, Consulting Structural Engineering Partner, Chicago

Ronald Johnson, Structural Engineering Associate Director, Chicago

Brian Lee, Consulting Design Partner, Chicago

Bin Pan, Senior Structural Engineer, Shanghai

Zoey Wu, Associate, New York City


Learn more about SOM here.