SOM Foundation was established in 1979 by the Partners of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). An early goal of the Foundation was to influence the architecture and engineering professions by enriching the education of the nation’s most promising young architecture and engineering students through the opportunity for travel and discovery of the world beyond their current horizons. This goal was realized when the SOM Foundation launched its Traveling Fellowship Program in 1981. The Fellowships continue to offer recent graduates the rare opportunity for travel in connection with carrying out in-depth research, to collaborate with other professionals, and to pursue independent study outside the established patterns of formal education.
As of August 2011, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.7 million to over 200 architecture, design and engineering students who have gone on to distinguish themselves in professional and academic careers.
Some notable SOM Foundation Award recipients include Marion Weiss (co-founder of Weiss/Manfredi) (1982), Werner Sobek (1983), Himanshu Parikh (1985), Santiago Calatrava (1988), and Joshua Ramus (1995).
Currently, the Foundation awards the following prizes and fellowships:
- SOM Prize for Architecture, Design and Urban Design
- Travel Fellowship for Architecture, Design and Urban Design
- Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship
- UK Award
- China Prize
SOM Prize for Architecture, Design and Urban Design
In 2006, to recognize the 25th year of the SOM Foundation's Traveling Fellowship Program, the $50,000 SOM Prize was established as the single-most generous travel and research award available to students graduating in the design disciplines. This research and travel fellowship enables one outstanding student to do in-depth research, collaborate with other designers, and pursue independent study outside the realm of established patterns.
Travel Fellowship for Architecture, Design and Urban Design
The SOM Travel Fellowship for Architecture, Design and Urban Design is a $20,000 award that enables one student to do in-depth research, collaborate with other designers, and pursue independent study outside the realm of established patterns.
Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship
The independent travel fellowship aims to foster an appreciation of the aesthetic potential in the structural design of buildings and bridges by enabling a gifted graduate to experience works of architecture and engineering first-hand.
Established in 1996, the UK Award is to be awarded to students of architecture in the United Kingdom. The goal of this award, conducted in association with and administered by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), is to invest in the British educational community. SOM has had an office in London since 1986.
The China Prize is a traveling fellowship whose goal is to help young Chinese architects broaden their education and gain an understanding of society’s need for improved built and natural environments.
- Mustafa K. Abadan - Chairman
- Anthony Vacchione - Vice Chairman
- William F. Baker - Secretary/Treasurer
Juries are composed of industry professionals as well as SOM partners and directors. Some of the past industry professionals who participated in juries for the SOM Foundation awards include: Henry N. Cobb, Jeanne Gang, Frank Gehry, Charles Gwathmey, Hugh Hardy, Thom Mayne, Charles Willard Moore, Cesar Pelli, Monica Ponce de Leon, Charles Renfro, Leslie Robertson, Martha Schwartz, Allan Temko, Stanley Tigerman, Billie Tsien, Massimo Vignelli, and Tod Williams
- "SOM Foundation Fellows List". SOM Foundation.
- "Marion Weiss". SOM Foundation.
- "Werner Sobek". SOM Foundation.
- "Himanshu Parikh". SOM Foundation.
- "Santiago Calatrava". SOM Foundation.
- "Joshua Ramus". SOM Foundation.
- "Marilyn Moedinger Wins SOM Prize". UVa School of Architecture.
- "Hugh Hayden wins $20,000 SOM Foundation fellowship". Cornell University AAP Department of Architecture.
- "SOM Foundation Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship". UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering.
- "The President's Medals Student Awards". The RIBA.
- "SOM Foundation Announces New Student Grant". Interior Design Magazine.
- "SOM Foundation is Silver". AllBusiness.com. 3 Feb 2006.
- "SOM Foundation Announces 2003 Traveling Fellowship". Interior Design Magazine.
- "SOM Foundation - 2011 Structural Engineering Travel Fellowship". University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering.
- "Officers". SOM Foundation.
- "List of Jurors". SOM Foundation.