Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), which has offices in Abu Dhabi and specialises in architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban-planning has earned the 2011 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Chicago chapter.
The award is the organisation’s highest honour a firm can receive. It recognises outstanding achievements by a company, excellence in the body of work produced and the contribution it makes to the advancement of the architectural profession in the areas of design, research, planning, technology and architectural practice.
According to AIA judges ‘SOM has a distinct culture that is collaborative and team-oriented with a history of high aspirations for design excellence.’
One of its projects includes Lulu Tower, a mixed-use complex opposite Abu Dhabi Corniche.
Formally, the tower is a traditional skyscraper turned inside-out, and like traditional Middle Eastern courtyard buildings, it turns its outer, protective face to the sun while opening inwardly to a central vertical “garden”.
It is organised into two curving outer zones that contain the building’s private habitable spaces and define a central garden that climbs vertically through its height. The plan is organised on a northwest – southeast alignment.