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The Dazzling Architecture of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

For sheer quantity of dazzling buildings, no firm can match the venerable architectural behemoth Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Known for snazzy corporate headquarters, the firm also designed the elegant Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, and the award-winning LEED Silver masterpiece for the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, SOM won 54 awards in 2008. Here are five examples from the 54 cities where most of its work is concentrated.

  • <p>For sheer quantity of dazzling buildings, no firm can match the venerable architectural behemoth Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Known for snazzy corporate headquarters, the firm also designed the elegant Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, and the award-winning LEED Silver masterpiece for the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, SOM won 54 awards in 2008. Here are five examples from the 54 cities where most of its work is concentrated.</p>
  • <p><strong>Location:</strong> Oakland, California<br />
<strong>Completed:</strong> September 2008<br />
<strong>Big idea:</strong> Create a spiritually uplifting site that could withstand a once-a-millennium earthquake.<br />
<strong>Dazzle factor:</strong> The interlocking circles forming the sanctuary's vesica-piscis footprint invoke an ancient symbol of Christianity, while the Douglas-fir interior walls are designed to bend in the event of seismic rumblings. </p>
  • <p><strong>Location:</strong> Doha, Qatar<br />
<strong>Estimated completion date:</strong> 2011<br />
<strong>Big idea:</strong> Re-create the communal spaces of a traditional souk on a mammoth (4.3-million-square-foot) scale.<br />
<strong>Dazzle factor:</strong> Undulating concrete "leaves," concave at the bottom and convex on top, regulate heat and produce shade. </p>
  • <p><strong>Location:</strong> Guangzhou, China<br />
<p><strong>Estimated completion date:</strong> 2010<br />
<strong>Big idea:</strong> World's most energy-efficient high-rise<br />
<strong>Dazzle factor:</strong> This building's sculpted body directs wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors, where it pushes turbines to generate energy. </p>
  • <p><strong>Location:</strong> Dubai, United Arab Emirates<br />
<strong>Estimated completion date:</strong> 2009<br />
<strong>Big idea:</strong> World's tallest tower. (The exact height is a secret, but it will top 2,320 feet.)<br />
<strong>Dazzle factor:</strong> Design inspired by local desert flora and patterns characteristic of Islamic architecture. </p>
  • <p><strong>Location:</strong> Kuwait City, Kuwait<br />
<strong>Estimated completion date:</strong> 2010<br />
<strong>Big idea:</strong> Maximize views, minimize solar heat.<br />
<strong>Dazzle factor:</strong> To minimize heat, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower, giving it a torqued ribbon form. </p>
  • 01 /06

    For sheer quantity of dazzling buildings, no firm can match the venerable architectural behemoth Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Known for snazzy corporate headquarters, the firm also designed the elegant Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, and the award-winning LEED Silver masterpiece for the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, SOM won 54 awards in 2008. Here are five examples from the 54 cities where most of its work is concentrated.

  • 02 /06

    Location: Oakland, California
    Completed: September 2008
    Big idea: Create a spiritually uplifting site that could withstand a once-a-millennium earthquake.
    Dazzle factor: The interlocking circles forming the sanctuary's vesica-piscis footprint invoke an ancient symbol of Christianity, while the Douglas-fir interior walls are designed to bend in the event of seismic rumblings.

  • 03 /06

    Location: Doha, Qatar
    Estimated completion date: 2011
    Big idea: Re-create the communal spaces of a traditional souk on a mammoth (4.3-million-square-foot) scale.
    Dazzle factor: Undulating concrete "leaves," concave at the bottom and convex on top, regulate heat and produce shade.

  • 04 /06

    Location: Guangzhou, China

    Estimated completion date: 2010
    Big idea: World's most energy-efficient high-rise
    Dazzle factor: This building's sculpted body directs wind to a pair of openings at its mechanical floors, where it pushes turbines to generate energy.

  • 05 /06

    Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Estimated completion date: 2009
    Big idea: World's tallest tower. (The exact height is a secret, but it will top 2,320 feet.)
    Dazzle factor: Design inspired by local desert flora and patterns characteristic of Islamic architecture.

  • 06 /06

    Location: Kuwait City, Kuwait
    Estimated completion date: 2010
    Big idea: Maximize views, minimize solar heat.
    Dazzle factor: To minimize heat, a quarter of each floor plate is chiseled out of the south side, shifting from west to east over the height of the tower, giving it a torqued ribbon form.

For sheer quantity of dazzling buildings, no firm can match the venerable architectural behemoth Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Known for snazzy corporate headquarters, the firm also designed the elegant Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California, and the award-winning LEED Silver masterpiece for the U.S. Census Bureau. In fact, SOM won 54 awards in 2008. Here are five examples from the 54 cities where most of its work is concentrated.

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