Feb. 18 Rowlett Lecture spotlighted Adrian Smith,
noted designer of super-tall, super-green buildings


Adrian Smith '66, designer of the world's tallest building and partner in a firm dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale, was featured at the 2011 John Miles Rowlett Lecture Series. The event is hosted annually by the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry.

He is widely reputed as the leading authority on supertall buildings, said Valerian Miranda, CRS Center director. Smith, who studied architecture at Texas A&M from 1962 – 66, was presented with an Aggie ring from The Association of Former Students after his lecture.

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He currently reigns as the designer of three of the top 10 tallest completed buildings, including the world’s tallest, the Burj Khalifa, a shimmering spire that rises more than half a mile, 2,716.5 feet, from the desert in the United Arab Emirates.

In addition to designing new sustainable buildings, his firm, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, is committed to the greening of existing structures and helping the building design industry meet its goal of “zero net energy” buildings by the year 2030.

The firm has recently completed a project showing how Chicago's Willis Tower, popularly known as the Sears Tower, can be retrofitted into a sustainable structure.

"Their plan,” Miranda said, “simulates how the building's electricity usage can be cut by 80 percent."

Smith left Texas A&M in 1967 before graduating to work for Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he stayed for 40 years before forming his own firm.

A portion of Smith’s presentation focused on his work at SOM, where he ultimately served as the firm’s chief executive officer from 1992 – 95. He will also discuss past and current projects at AS+GG and look into the firm’s future.

A panel discussion moderated by Jeff Potter '78, 79, American Institute of Architects' first vice-president/president elect in 2011 and president in 2012 including outstanding alumni and current students, followed Smith's lecture. The event concluded with a public reception.

Prior to his Rudder Theatre appearance, Smith visited with fellow Ags who are following in his footsteps as architecture students at Texas A&M.

"It's not every day that the person who's responsible for many of the tallest buildings in the world comes to speak at a university," said Miranda. "He's not one of those who does the lecture circuit, he's interested in doing work."

In addition to the Burj Khalifa, Smith has designed the sixth tallest building, Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China; the ninth tallest, Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, and the 10th tallest, Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai.

His firm recently won top honors in the World Architecture News' 2010 awards for its creation of the Chicago Central Area DeCarbonization Plan, an ambitious, year-long effort involving 50 members of the firm's staff, that lays out a strategy for helping Chicago achieve a 25% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 and a 100% reduction in carbon emissions in new and renovated buildings by 2030.

"Through architecture and urban design, their entire practice is geared towards solving now the problems of our cities' futures," said Miranda.

The Rowlett Lecture Series was created in 1980 to bring speakers of national and international significance to the schools of architecture at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas. The original endowment was established with the Texas Architectural Foundation (TAF) through support from CRS, Inc., in Houston and Mrs. Virginia Rowlett. After reviewing proposals by each school for the inaugural lecture, Texas A&M was chosen and subsequently given control over the series by TAF because of its enthusiasm and the quality of the program prepared for the initial lecture series.

The John Miles Rowlett Lecture was endowed in 1979 through a grant from the founders of CRS and Mrs. Virginia Rowlett with a goal of bringing speakers of national and international significance to the College of Architecture at Texas A&M. The original firm of CRS was established in 1946 by William W. Caudill and John M. Rowlett, professors of architecture at Texas A&M.

For more details, or to register, visit the 2011 Rowlett Lecture website at rowlett.tamu.edu or contact Susie Billings at sbillings@arch.tamu.edu or 979.847.9357.

Learn more about Adrian Smith's journey from Texas A&M to the height of his profession at http://archone.tamu.edu/college/news.

Visit the Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture website at http://www.smithgill.com/.


- Posted: Dec. 7, 2010 -

— the end —

Contact:   Phillip Rollfing, prollfing@archone.tamu.edu or 979.458.0442.


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