SOM Exhibits 30 Structural Skeleton Models Showing Evolution of Tall Building Design


© Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu

When it comes to tall building design, it’s often the structural system where the most groundbreaking innovations are made. Premiering this week in partnership with the Chicago Architecture Biennial is a new exhibition highlighting the innovative structural systems of an architecture firm that has completed their fair share of tall buildings: SOM.

Titled SOM: Engineering x [Art + Architecture], the exhibition uncovers the concepts and forms of the firm’s greatest achievements, including revolutionary tall buildings such as the John Hancock Building, the Willis Tower and the current world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. The exhibition reveals the research and thought processes through a range of media: hand-drawn sketches, interactive sculpture, immersive video, and most notably, a lineup of models at 1:500 showing the structural skeletons of 30 significant projects.


© Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu

“An engineer should design a structure that an architect would be ashamed to cover up,” commented SOM partner Bill Baker.


© Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu

© Laurian Ghinitoiu

The exhibition also follows the firm’s longstanding tradition of working with visual artists. On display will be models, drawings and other objects created through collaborations with Pablo Picasso, James Turrell, Jaume Plensa, James Carpenter, Janet Echelman, and Iñigo Manglano-Ovall, exploring the idea that “engineers, architects, and artists alike practice a poetry of inquiry, experimentation, and ingenuity.”

The exhibition will be on display through the duration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, closing on January 7th, 2018.

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