26 June 2018
26 June 2018
SOM, New York: Collaborative, Rigorous, Global.
The Culture of Practice
“SOM was founded as a collective enterprise,” says Scott Duncan, a Design Partner based in the firm’s Chicago office. “This has been one of the keys to our history of technological and design innovation. It’s what has allowed us to grow and evolve.” Eight decades since its founding, the firm’s constant renewal has allowed it to hold its position at the forefront of the profession. In 2017,Architect Magazine named SOM the number one firm in the world in its Architect 50 ranking. Having also received this award in 2010, SOM is the only firm to win this honour twice.
As a true interdisciplinary practice, SOM brings architects, engineers, urban planners, and interior designers together to find novel, often unexpected solutions. “Innovation is occurring at the boundaries between disciplines, so we are constantly re-evaluating the physical space that we work in, the technology that we use, the people that are around the table to serve that radical form of collaboration, ”Duncan says. The design of each of SOM’s offices supports this culture. Its New York office – a representative example –features interconnected open-plan studios where designers work in small, integrated teams.
Collaboration drives SOM at a global level, as well. Rather than maintain a single headquarters, the firm distributes its leadership and talent across all its offices – including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and other cities – to form an international knowledge-sharing network. “We are one firm in many locations,” Duncan says.
SOM’s staff reflects its global perspective. Collectively, its employees represent more than 60 nationalities and speak more than 40 languages. They are graduates of leading design, engineering, and urban planning schools around the world, who come seeking the opportunity to work on projects at all scales – from small public schools to airport terminals. “I was initially drawn to SOM because of its international profile and the diversity of the projects,” says Yasemin Kologlu, an Associate Director in the London office. “Very few companies can provide you with that kind of experience.”
Author: Sung Yoon, Marketing Assistant, Bespoke Careers