Day 133/365 of Steel – Adrian D. Smith

Today a post about ‘the masterarchitect of the supertall’

Adrian D. Smith (born August 19, 1944) is an American architect.  He was born in Chicago in 1944. He started working for Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM) in 1967. Smith spent many years at SOM, and was a Design Partner from 1980 to 2003 and a Consulting Design Partner from 2003 to 2006. I added pictures of some of his projects during his SOM’ era. In 2006, he founded Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AS+GG). During his time at SOM he was involved In the masterplan for Canary Wharf in London.

Burj Khalifa
Fig 1: Burj Khalifa
Photo: Donaldytong

He designed the world’s tallest structure, Burj Khalifa, as well as the building projected to surpass it, the Jeddah Tower. The biggest similarity between the Burj Khalifa and the Jeddah Tower is that they both have a “Y”-shaped plan with three exterior walls instead of four.

Kingdom (Jeddah) Tower Height Comparison Chart
Fig 2: Kingdom (Jeddah) Tower Height Comparison Chart
Image source:

Through extensive wind-tunnel testing, Smith and his engineers figured out that the three-walled design was more aerodynamic and better able to withstand wind shear at dizzyingly high altitudes. While the Burj Khalifa tapers in stages as different sections of the tower top out, the design for the Jeddah Tower is one continuously tapering tower that pierces the clouds like a giant needle. It remains quite uncertain whether the Jeddah Tower will be finished.

Jin Mao Tower, a 421 metres supertall skyscraper in Shanghai, China  Designed by Adrian D. Smith 
Fig 3: Jin Mao Tower, a 421 metres supertall skyscraper in Shanghai, China Designed by Adrian D. Smith 
Photo: Jakob Montrasio

I’d like to add a personal point of view with regard to this supertall structures in the desert. Do we really need them? Do we have the slightest idea about the working conditions for the construction workers? Why spend billions of dollars in building the tallest skyscraper in the world, when we face huge challenges in protecting our world against the consequences of climate change? I don’t have the answer but these questions are valid.

Franklin Center (Chicago) Designed by Adrian D. Smith 
Fig: Franklin Center (Chicago) Designed by Adrian D. Smith 
Photo: TonyTheTiger

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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