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Adrian D. Smith

At a Glance

Class Year: 1966

Award Year: 2011

Degree: Bachelor of Architecture

Profession: Architect


Adrian Smith has been a practicing architect for over 40 years. His extraordinary body of work includes some of the world’s most recognizable landmark structures, including Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai; Rowes Wharf in Boston and Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest structure, in Dubai. Adrian’s design approach emphasizes sensitivity to the physical environment. He considers each project holistically, taking into consideration site orientation, climate and geography, and cultural and social influences to create highly sustainable projects that achieve contextualism within the global environment. As one of the world’s foremost experts of super tall towers, he recently collaborated with Gordon Gill on the world’s first net Zero-Energy skyscraper, Pearl River Tower, in Guangzhou, China. The design harvests the natural forces of wind, sun and geothermal mas while integrating other cutting edge technologies. Projects under Adrian's direction have won over 100 major awards for design excellence. His work has been featured in major museums in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Adrian has also written two books pertaining to his work as an architect. They are “Pro Architect 24: Adrian D. Smith” and “The Architecture of Adrian Smith, SOM: Toward a Sustainable Future.” Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture also just published its first book, “Toward Zero Carbon,” a detailed “DeCarbonization Plan” for the City of Chicago. Prior to founding Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture in 2006, Adrian was a Design Partner in the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill from 1980 to 2003 and a Consulting Design Partner from 2004 to 2006. Most recently, Adrian joined Gordon Gill, Robert Forest and Roger Frechette as founding principals of PositivEnergy Practice an energy, engineering and consulting firm that designs and implements energy, resource management and carbon reduction strategies for public and private clients around the world. In 2013 Adrian received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree from Texas A&M University.