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Tall Order

Take a world tour with world-renowned architect Adrian Smith.


Smith’s Hots
Fishing off the beach, playing with my grandchildren, Reinvent for art in Lake Forest, The Find for antiques in Highwood

Smith’s Nots
Talking in elevators, driving your Ferrari in the snow

Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Chengdu, Bogotá, Jeddah…then back to home base in Lake Forest. Architect Adrian Smith’s global itinerary is extraordinary in any context, but even more so when one considers the significant footprint he and his colleagues at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill leave behind.

When at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for 25 years, Smith had a hand in designing locally familiar landmark buildings including Willis Tower, The John Hancock Center, and Trump International Hotel and Tower. The more exotic followed as he started his own firm with a couple of partners in 2006.

Smith not only designs supertall skyscrapers across the globe (the most recent examples being Dancing Dragons in Seoul, Korea; and Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia), but he is dedicated to the creation of high-performance yet energy-efficient projects.

His latest endeavor is a village for Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan. “We were chosen because we demonstrated that the buildings we are designing can generate and harvest enough energy from the sun, wind, ground and waste to run the fair,” explains Smith, just back from Kazakhstan. Won in steep international competition, the project exemplifies the growing demand for sustainability in modern design.

“The Expo will be more than a series of exposition buildings; it will be a permanent neighborhood,” says Smith. “The design’s centerpiece is an energy sphere that will demonstrate wind turbines and photo voltaic solar systems integrated into the building’s form. It’s the first time that a community will be built from the start that will become largely energy self-sufficient. We’re enjoying the challenge!”