July 31, 2012
Today was the most exciting day of the program- usually the favorite field trip. We had the exciting opportunity to visit two architecture firms based in Chicago.
First stop is Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. This firm is known for its high-performance buildings, super-tall structures, and it plan for decarbonization. In other words, Smith + Gill is the Ferrari of architecture (and since their architecture is so high profile, it is also top -secret. No pictures were allowed on this tour). Our tours were led by Carlo Parente and Gail Borthwick, two Senior members of the firm. They showed us the facilities in their building, which includes a full-size model shop (unusual for architecture firms), as well as a few different departments. They have not only a conceptual team, but also and urban design and interior architecture team that all work together on large projects. Their most exciting current project is the Kingdom Tower, the world’s next tallest building a 1km tall in Saudi Arabia.
Our second stop is VOA. While this firm is similar in size to Smith + Gill, this firm operates in a completely different way. Their headquarters are located in Chicago, but they have several offices throughout the U.S. and the world. They work in many different building types, such as hospitality, healthcare, high education, corporate interiors, and mid-rise residential.
The other noticeable difference between the two firms is the way they work on projects. Smith + Gill works mainly on computers through renderings and 3D modeling software. VOA, on the other hand, works through sketches and quick drawings that are pinned up everywhere throughout the office. Smith + Gill is a very clean and organized space since their work is stored in their computers (models aside), while VOA is a more typical firm with their drawings overflowing their open work space.