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Famed architect (and former SOM partner) Adrian Smith loves the ease of decision making that comes with running his own firm. Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (partners Gordon Gill and Bob Forest plus 100 staff architects) get to explore new ideas, i.e: the design for the $1.2B mixed-use Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. At 3,300 feet-plus (the exact height is a secret) it will be the world’s tallest tower.


Adrian, here with Peter Kindel and Les Ventsch, says that

AS+GG aims for buildings that are sustainable beyond LEED standards, like the new HQ for the Federation of Korean Industries under construction in Seoul and due for completion in 2013. Adrian says the 50-story tower’s accordion-like folded exterior wall helps collect energy and reduce power consumption in the building by having photovoltaic panels on some spandrel facades. AS+GG has won commissions to design two more Korean towers of 88 and 77 stories called "officetels" with units to be used for residences or small in-town offices as part of the Yongsan development in South Korea. Adrian says that in Korea, and to an even greater extent in China and the Middle East, clients want buildings that have “landmark-quality” designs to help create an identity for fast-growing communities.
Reznick (Summit) MCHI
Here's a one of the Chicago teams, led by Sara Beardsley, far left. Last week, Adrian was in Guangzhou, China, where his team is designing the 50-acre Haitang Bay Resort on Sanya Island nearby. He’s excited about doing one of the firm’s first resorts, which will have two hotels, villas, and condominiums. In China (still the strongest market for US architects), another Smith/Gill design is in construction: The Wuhan Greenland Center, which at 1,998 feet will be the world’s fourth-tallest tower. He says it’s amazing that even a third- or fourth-tier Chinese city like Guangzhou has a downtown population of 12 million, rivaling NYC in size.
Bejing, AS+GG has designed a Waldorf Astoria
In Bejing, AS+GG has designed a Waldorf-Astoria hotel, which is under construction and scheduled for completion next year. The simple design features a bronze exterior, a royal material that expresses luxury and dignity. And at Kingdom Tower, site prep is under way with 63 months of construction to follow. Adrian says that his firm has one current commission in the US for a theater and he’d love to do more. But except for multifamily, the domestic market is still somewhat in the doldrums.