Aug 25th 2019

​College of Architecture to Host Inaugural International Research Forum with SOM Foundation

Friday, September 6, 2019
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
S. R. Crown Hall
Register Here

On Friday, September 6, IIT College of Architecture will host the International Research and Design Forum with SOM Foundation. The event is an exploration and celebration of engineering and architecture, and will feature discussions with and presentations from some of the greatest minds in architecture, engineering, and design from firms and institutions such as Foster + Partners and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among others.

The forum will be held in honor of William F. Baker, a structural engineering partner at SOM since 1996. He has led the firm’s structural engineering practice for more than 20 years, and first joined the firm in 1981.

Baker’s contributions to high-rise and long-span architecture have been both literally and figuratively massive. Baker has overseen notable projects, including the GMRENCEN (General Motors Renaissance Center) in Detroit, the Broadgate Exchange House in London, and the BP Pedestrian Bridge in Chicago’s Millennium Park. In a 2007 profile, Wired magazine called him “the most important structural engineer in the world.”

Perhaps his most monumental achievement is his work as chief structural engineer of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which at 2,722 feet is the world’s tallest building. It eclipses Taipei 101, formerly the world’s tallest building, by a 60 percent difference in height. The Burj Khalifa was able to reach its record height thanks to Baker’s innovative “buttressed core” system, a tripod-shaped structure composed of a central core providing torsional resistance and with three building wings providing shear resistance.

In addition to Baker, the forum will feature 11 other presenters, including:

Francis Aish, a partner and the head of applied research and development at Foster + Partners, whose work includes 30 St. Mary Axe in London (commonly referred to as The Gherkin) and Beijing Capital International Airport

Architect and artist James Carpenter, whose firm is notable for its extensive use of glass including in its most recent work on the Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis

Michelle Addington, dean of the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture and a former engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Scott Duncan, a design partner at SOM who leads the design of skyscrapers and mixed-use projects

Janet Echelman, a sculptor and artist whose collaborations with architects and scientists have resulted in expansive public art installations worldwide. She previously collaborated with SOM to produce Dream Catcher, a 90-foot-tall sculpture suspended between the two towers of the SOM-designed Sunset La Cienega Hotel in Los Angeles.

To attend any of the presentations, registration is required. For professionals the fee is $50; the event is free for students. To learn more and to register, click here.