Mark Lamster | Essays

SOM: They’re #1


What is the top architectural firm in the United States? The friendly staff at Architect magazine established a set of criteria, surveyed the profession and crunched the numbers. After all that scientific effort, they arrived at the same answer just about any sane person would have given them with barely a second thought: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.

Then they asked me to write the profile. (Warning: prose shading toward the hue of purple.) SOM, of course, has been the sine qua non of corporate design for three quarters of a century, "the Brooks Brothers of glass and steel," as I write. They build, they plan, and they win awards by the cartload. The resources the firm devotes to technical research are prodigious. No one will build you a more elegant curtain wall, but that's not where the practice ends. It's hard to begrudge the firm its status, which seems rightfully earned, even if corporate design isn't your cup of tea. And I suspect we'll see them in the same spot next year.

Posted in: Architecture, Media

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