Designing a Site Fit For The Legacy of Architecture’s Most Prolific Firm



The Background

SOM’s legacy of innovation, care for craft, and collaborative approach to process is why they’ve been leaders that push the industry forward like no other firm can since their inception in 1936. However, it’s through their people that they’ve been able to create a culture that celebrates diverse and unique perspectives, ultimately making their work the best in the world.

Built on a set of rigid templates, SOM’s site didn’t bring forth this humanity that makes their work possible, from the smallest graphic installation to the tallest skyscraper. In a complete redesign, Code and Theory partnered with their marketing and communications team to create a destination that’s reflective of the quality of their work, ideas, people, and culture.

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The Execution

On the new site, the breadth of SOM’s portfolio is elevated through the inclusion of space to highlight the creative process, letting users dive deeper into parts of the story that are of particular interest to them. The projects that prove their innovative and collaborative approach are supplemented with research, ideas, exhibitions, and publications, further cementing the depth and extent of their multidisciplinary contributions to the industry.

Equally important to the work, their perspective-diverse people are intentionally highlighted by democratically bringing more individuals onto the site and connecting them to their contributions, from projects to news to values-driven cultural initiatives.

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The Website

We redesigned the website to communicate that SOM is more than just projects. The homepage of the website communicates who SOM is and why their work is so prolific. Across all borders and devices, we curated a responsive design and multi-language capabilities which ensures that anyone can engage with the site regardless of where they are. We used extensive expertise in order to streamline SOM’s site, minimizing confusion and overlap while updating preexisting language to terms that don’t require industry knowledge. The site’s design language is timeless and simple—while maintaining an edited and rigorous structure—so that images of SOM’s extensive work can be at the forefront, without distraction from any superfluous design elements.

Because of the scale of their work, many of SOM’s projects involve multiple expertise and areas of work. As a result, we dove deep, having unique URLs for sharing, while still being a part of the overall project page narrative and experience. The culture section highlights the firm’s people, their unique perspectives through their voices, and the internal work they do to foster a collaborative environment for all. Going beyond buildings, the Ideas section of the site consolidates research, stories, exhibitions, and publications—with layouts tailored to further frame SOM as leaders in the industry.

Important need-to-know information is met with the story of SOM’s legacy and the values they hold today, ensuring site visitors know who they are, what the latest is on them, what they value, and how to get in touch.

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