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Lecture: Bill Baker, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

March 5, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

No cost
Art and Architecture Building with words "Lecture Series"
Headshot of Bill Baker

William F. Baker, PE, SE, FASCE, NAE, FREng, Structural Engineering Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, will lecture on March 5, 2018, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  The public lecture will take place in Rm. 109/McCarty Auditorium in the Art + Architecture Building.

Baker’s lecture, Architecture and Structures in the Computational Age, challenges architects and designers, “Is it appropriate to create designs that are often extremely inefficient?”

Baker is the developer of the buttressed core structural system for the world’s tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as well as the Broadgate Exchange House, a 10-story office building spanning 78 meters over a rail yard in London, among many others.

His lecture brings these experiences to the forefront as he focuses on the freedom in form-making through advances in computer-aided design and manufacturing.  He will discuss form and function that unite to create an integrated, inspirational building but sometimes are willful and independent of the restrains of clear structure and function.

Throughout his career, Baker has dedicated himself to innovative structural engineering design and research.  His lecture will suggest, “Not so long ago, architecture needed to be relatively simple and clearly organized because of the inability of the engineer to calculate complex structures.   The current situation crept up on the profession in small steps, and these changes unfolded without a critical conversation.  Today’s modern structural engineers find themselves in the midst of an ethical dilemma:  Are we the enablers of waste or the facilitators of dreams?  The time has come for a critical discussion.”

Baker’s expertise covers a variety of structures at many scales.  In addition to the Burj Khalifa and the Broadgate Exchange House, Baker is responsible for the structural design of a two-story training center for Roche Diagnostics in Indianapolis; Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago; the pedestrian bridge at Manulife Place in Calgary; the Fishers Island Residence, a 4,600 sf steel and glass single family residence in New York, with architect Thomas Phifer and Partners; Skyspace, a permanent art installation with artist James Turrell at Rice University; and research projects leading to new, highly efficient bracing and structural systems.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the UT College of Architecture and Design, comprise the UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Energy + Urbanism, an unprecedented collaboration of science, academia and design.  The Governor’s Chair program, led by Phil Enquist, Consulting Partner at SOM, is responsible for such successes as AMIE (Additive Manufacturing and Integrated energy), one of the world’s largest 3D-printed systems that creates and shares energy.  The program also sponsors lectures each year for UT students, faculty, staff and the community.

The lecture also is part of TAAST, The Annual All-College Spring Thing, a week-long event that features lectures, workshops and more for students in the college.

For more information about lectures at the UT College of Architecture and Design, visit


March 5, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
No cost


Amanda Johnson


McCarty Auditorium/Art + Architecture Building
1715 Volunteer Boulevard, Room 109
Knoxville, TN
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