AS+GG’s Holistic Approach for Creating High Performance,Sustainable Architecture

Adrian Smith Gordon Gill
"We believe that architecture has a unique power to influence our world. As architects, we must recognize and respect our role in shaping civic life. We strive to create designs that aid society, advance technology, sustain the environment and inspire those around us to improve our world," Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Founded in 2006, Chicago based architectural and design firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture (AG+GG), is a Conflux where three renowned architects Adrian Smith, Gordon Gill and Robert Forest of varied expertise works in proximity to provide clients a one-stop shop solution provider for different design and architecture requirements either it be sustainable or contemporary. The togetherness of these three giants, make AG+GG, a practice with diverse portfolio and dedicated to the design of high-performance, energy-efficient and sustainable architecture on an international scale and also specializes in the design of supertall skyscrapers such as the Kingdom Tower, which will overtake the Burj Khalifa once completed.

Moreover, the practice is dedicated to the creation of new paradigms for sustainable development and uses an integrated design approach that emphasizes symbiotic relationship with the natural environment -- a philosophy they've termed "global environmental contextualism." This approach, which takes into consideration building orientation, daylighting, generation of wind power, solar absorption, and a site's geothermal properties, represents a fundamental change in the design process, in which form facilitates performance. It's predicated on the understanding that everything within the built and natural environment is connected and that a building's design should stem from an understanding of its role within that context -- locally, regionally and globally.

AS+GG strive to create intelligent, high-performance, forward-looking designs that exhibit timeless and enduring qualities. The firm embraces a holistic approach to design and believe that the future of architecture relies not on a changing aesthetic but on the implementation of an integrated process, predicated on an equal understanding and consideration of each project discipline.

Crystal Center

The firm approaches each project, regardless of size or scale, with an understanding that architecture has a unique power to influence civic life. The architectural firm flourished well in a short span of time and today has around 100 employees with projects located around the world.


kingdom Tower
The founding partners of AS+GG prior to establishing this firm were associated with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for decades. All the partners and directors of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture have over 40 years of experience, master-planning more than 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) and millions of square feet in major cities across the globe. Moreover, the practice includes designers with extensive experience in multiple disciplines, including technical architecture, interior design, urban planning, and sustainable design.

Due to its approach for creating and developing high-performance, energy-efficient, sustainable architecture, the firm has number of recognition and awards to its credit. Recently, it has been learned that Adrian Smith, designer of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and a champion of sustainable design received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Texas A&M at spring commencement. Widely regarded as the world's leading authority on super-tall buildings, Smith is an outstanding alumnus of the College of Architecture and founding principal of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. His honorary degree was authorized by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at their Jan. 31, 2013 meeting, following recommendations from the Texas A&M Faculty Senate and university president R. Bowen Loftin.

In addition to designing super-tall, sustainable buildings, Smith 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. Toward that end, AS+GG developed plans for a "green" retrofit of Chicago's Willis Tower, popularly known as the Sears Tower, that could cut the building's electricity usage by 80%.

Smith's journey to the height of his profession began with four years of architecture study at Texas A&M from 1962-1966, before he was lured to Chicago for a summer internship, where he eventually finished his degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago and landed a job at Skidmore, Owings & Merill. He stayed at SOM for four decades, advancing through the ranks and eventually serving as chief executive officer from 1992 – 95, before leaving in 2006 to start AS + GG.

Smith has been a practicing architect for more than 40 years. His unique design approach emphasizes sensitivity to the physical environment. He considers each project holistically, taking into consideration site orientation, climate and geography, cultural and social influences to create highly sustainable projects that achieve contextualism within the global environment.

Masdar Headquarter

Throughout his career, Adrian has played an active role in international projects and developments. His extraordinary body of work includes some of the world's most recognizable landmark structures, including the Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai; Rowes Wharf in Boston; and Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, the world's tallest structure. Projects under his design direction have won over 110 major awards for design excellence, including five international awards, eight National AIA awards, 23 Chicago AIA awards, and two ULI Awards for Excellence. His work has been featured in major museums in the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

AS+GG's second founding partner Gordon Gill is one of the world's preeminent exponents of performance-based architecture. His work, which ranges from the world's largest buildings to sustainable communities, is driven by his philosophy that there is a language of performance: a purposeful relationship between formal design and energy/carbon performance.

His work includes the design of the world's first net zero-energy skyscraper, the Pearl River Tower (designed at SOM Chicago), and the world's first large-scale positive energy building, Masdar Headquarters. These landmark projects achieve energy independence by harnessing the power of natural forces on site, striking a balance with their environmental contexts. Gordon's designs also include performing arts centers, museums, single family homes and urban master plans across the globe. His work has been recognized widely around the world and in 2009 he was selected as Chicago's Best Emerging Architect by the Chicago Reader. In 2013, Gordon was elected to The College of Fellows at the American Institute of Architects.

Dancing Dragon
Last but not the least, the firm's third important pillar, Robert Forest, has extensive knowledge and experience with the execution of projects on an international scale. Robert's expertise in both project management and technical architecture contribute to his comprehensive understanding of both the built environment and the practice of architecture.

He is dedicated to the advancement of the management discipline within an architectural context. After over a decade spent practicing abroad Robert's has developed a unique understanding of architectural practices across the globe and has utilized this knowledge in the management of numerous large-scale, complex projects. He works diligently alongside design teams from all disciplines throughout each project, ensuring that designs are executed with a careful understanding of each client's goals and vision.

Quest for New Insights in Design

AS+GG collaborate with the world's leading experts such as scientists, artists, sociologists, philosophers, thinkers etc and strive to expand their perspective and generate new discoveries and insights into the world of design. Most recently, the partners co-founded PositivEnergy Practice, a consulting firm that designs and implements energy and carbon reduction strategies for clients around the world. Many more developments are on way to come.