Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
  • William Baker

About William Baker

William F. Baker is the Structural Engineering Partner for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM). Throughout his distinguished career, Bill has dedicated himself to structural innovation-- most notably in the design of tall buildings. His development of the Burj Khalifa’s “buttressed core” structural system has ushered in the new era of the supertall building. At 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest manmade structure, eclipsing its immediate predecessors by over 300m. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), three of the world’s tallest buildings are credited to Baker and his team: Burj Khalifa, Trump International Hotel & Tower, and Zifeng Tower.

In addition to working at SOM, Bill is actively involved with numerous institutions of higher learning, as well as various professional organizations. He is the 2011 recipient of the American…


Read full bio

About William Baker

William F. Baker is the Structural Engineering Partner for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP (SOM). Throughout his distinguished career, Bill has dedicated himself to structural innovation-- most notably in the design of tall buildings. His development of the Burj Khalifa’s “buttressed core” structural system has ushered in the new era of the supertall building. At 828 meters, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest manmade structure, eclipsing its immediate predecessors by over 300m. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), three of the world’s tallest buildings are credited to Baker and his team: Burj Khalifa, Trump International Hotel & Tower, and Zifeng Tower.

In addition to working at SOM, Bill is actively involved with numerous institutions of higher learning, as well as various professional organizations. He is the 2011 recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) OPAL Award, recognizing lifetime achievement in design. He has also received the Gold Medal from the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), and was the first American to receive the Fritz Leonhardt Preis (Germany). In 2008, the CTBUH awarded him the Fazlur Rahman Khan medal. Mr. Baker is a Fellow of both the ASCE and the IStructE, and frequently lectures on a variety of structural engineering topics within the U.S. and abroad.

CTBUH Involvement

  • Fazlur R. Khan Lifetime Achievement Award (2008)
  • Innovation Conference, Session Chair (2018)
  • Past Roles:
  • Board of Trustees, Trustee (2008 – 2014)
  • Advisory Group (1999 – 2008)
  • Leadership and Scope Committee, Chair (1999 – 2000)
  • Annual Conference, Speaker (Hong Kong 1990; Amsterdam 1995; Melbourne 2001; Stuttgart 2003; Seoul 2004; New York 2005; Chicago 2006; Dubai 2008; Shanghai 2012; London 2013)
  • Annual Conference, Session Chair (Chicago 2009)

Events/Initiatives Involving William Baker

Spring 2016 Dean's Lecture Series: William Baker

15 Jan 2016, Event – William Baker, Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, will lecture for…

5th International Congress on Construction History

3-7 Jun 2015, Event – The Construction History Society of America will be hosting the 5th…

Trustees Meeting Reflects CTBUH’s Momentum

28 Feb 2014, Event Report – The CTBUH Board of Trustees met February 28, setting the course for a number of…

Events/Initiatives Involving William Baker

Spring 2016 Dean's Lecture Series: William Baker
15 Jan 2016, Chicago – Event common.non-ctbuh
William Baker, Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in Chicago, will lecture for the Myron Goldsmith Lecture as part of the College of Architecture Spring 2016 Dean's Lecture Series.
5th International Congress on Construction History
3-7 Jun 2015, Chicago – Event common.non-ctbuh
The Construction History Society of America will be hosting the 5th International Congress on Construction History at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago.
Trustees Meeting Reflects CTBUH’s Momentum
28 Feb 2014, Chicago – Event Report
The CTBUH Board of Trustees met February 28, setting the course for a number of strategic Council initiatives, including the Strategic Five-Year Plan.
CTBUH Helps CAF Answer "What Do You Mean by TALL?" with LEGOs
19 Feb 2014, Chicago – Event Report
The CTBUH helped the CAF launch its “Drinks + Design” adult-education evening program for 2014, by supervising and judging the designs of about a dozen teams of LEGO skyscrapers
AAAS “Future of Cities” Symposium Sees Destiny in Density
15 Feb 2014, Chicago – Event Report
Executive Director Antony Wood, Trustee Bill Baker, and several academic experts on urban issues spoke at the AAAS Annual Meeting on the panel The Future of Cities: Dense or Dispersed?
Activity at the CTBUH London Conference: Day Two
12 Jun 2013, London – Conference Activity
See the highlights from the second day of the CTBUH 2013 London Conference including The Shard Networking Reception.
Trustees Meeting 2013, Chicago
4 Mar 2013, Chicago – Event Report
The board of trustees of the CTBUH held its annual meeting at IIT in Chicago on March 4. As a first order of business, the board welcomed three new trustees.
9th World Congress Proceedings Shanghai
Sep 2012, Shanghai – CTBUH Publication
The proceedings of the CTBUH 9th World Congress, held in Shanghai from September 19th - 21st 2012, includes all 114 papers in both a hardcover book and a DVD.
Eco-in-the-City Features CTBUH
28 Aug 2012, Chicago – CTBUH In the Media
World Architecture News is spotlighting the CTBUH in a series of articles on the site’s Eco-in-the-City blog. The articles penned by CTBUH leaders are focusing on sustainability issues.
Trustees Meeting 2012 Report, Chicago
19 Mar 2012, Chicago – Event Report
After one of the most successful years in the 43-year history of the CTBUH, the Board of Trustees gathered to review recent initiatives and discuss the Council’s long-term strategies.
9/11 – Ten Years on: CTBUH Reflections
6 Sep 2011, Chicago – CTBUH Publication
In the week that we mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 events and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers CTBUH reflected on the impact on tall buildings.
CTBUH 2010 Annual Leaders Meeting
22 Oct 2010, Chicago – Event Report
Following the CTBUH 9th Annual Awards Dinner & Ceremony, the CTBUH Leadership team met again bright and early on the campus of the IIT in Chicago for their annual Leaders Meeting.
Trustees Meeting 2010, Mumbai
2 Feb 2010, Mumbai – Event Report
The 2010 annual Trustees meeting took place prior to the CTBUH 2010 World Conference Mumbai, in the same venue as the conference, the Renaissance Hotel Mumbai.
CTBUH People in force at Burj Khalifa opening
Jan 2010, Dubai – CTBUH In the Media
Several CTBUH Leaders were in attendance in the VIP section at the Burj Khalifa official opening on 4th January.
CTBUH 2009 Annual Leaders Meeting
21 Oct 2009, Chicago – Event Report
Preceding the CTBUH 2009 Chicago Conference, 55 leaders within the CTBUH organization gathered to discuss current developments, progress on projects, and new ideas and initiatives.
CTBUH Board of Trustees Inaugural Meeting
21 Jan 2009, Chicago – Event Report
The new CTBUH Board of Trustees met at CTBUH Headquarters for their inaugural meeting. The seven people who currently make up the board were all present at the meeting.
Changes to CTBUH Governance
Oct 2008, Chicago – CTBUH News
In line with the expanding operation, CTBUH changed its Governance, including the creation of a new Board of Trustees.

See all initiatives involving William Baker

William Baker Related Resources

Future Cities Discussion Includes CTBUH Executive Director, Trustee

Future Cities Discussion Includes CTBUH Executive Director, Trustee

17 Feb 2014, – CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood and Board of Trustee Member William Baker join a wide-ranging New York…

Timber Tower Gets Times Treatment

Timber Tower Gets Times Treatment

24 Sep 2013, Chicago – In June, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill released its Timber Tower Research Project, a study of the possibilities…

Read more Global Tall Building News

Interview: Cayan Tower

6 Nov 2014 – 2014 Awards Ceremony/Symposium Interviews
William Baker & George J. Efstathiou, SOM

2014 Awards - Session 3 Q&A

6 Nov 2014 – CTBUH "13th Annual Awards"
Chair: Antony Wood, Executive Director, CTBUH

What is the Single Biggest Challenge in Constructing a Mile-high Tower?

Mar 2013 – Monthly Video Series
William Baker, SOM; Craig Gibbons, Arup; Andy Davids, Hyder Consulting; Mehdi Jalayerian, Environmental Systems Design; Ahmad Abdelrazaq, Samsung

See all videos

Next-Generation Supertall Tower Form Determinants: A Study of the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre

17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism
Brian Lee, William Baker, Inho Rhee & Ronald Johnson, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Case Study: Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou

Jun 2014 – CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue II
Richard Tomlinson II, William Baker, Luke Leung, et al. Skidmore Owings & Merrill

The Special Nature of the European Skyscraper

Jun 2013 – CTBUH Journal, 2013 Issue II
Viewpoints: The London Conference

See all papers/research

Press/Media Related to William Baker

Future Cities Discussion Includes CTBUH Executive Director, Trustee
, – CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood and Board of Trustee Member William Baker join a wide-ranging New York Times podcast to discuss the…
Timber Tower Gets Times Treatment
Chicago, United States – In June, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill released its Timber Tower Research Project, a study of the possibilities of tall wood construction. In a…

Read more: Global Tall Building News / CTBUH in the Media Articles

William Baker Related Videos

Interview: Cayan Tower
6 Nov 2014 – 2014 Awards Ceremony/Symposium Interviews; William Baker & George J. Efstathiou, SOM
Thursday 6th November 2014. Chicago, IL. William Baker & George Efstathiou, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, are interviewed by Chris Bentley regarding the Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa Award winner, the Cayan Tower, during the 2014 CTBUH Awards…
2014 Awards - Session 3 Q&A
6 Nov 2014 – CTBUH "13th Annual Awards"; Chair: Antony Wood, Executive Director, CTBUH
Thursday, 6th November 2014 Chicago, USA. Leslie Shepherd, Chief Architect, General Services Administration, James Cutler, Founding Partner, Cutler Anderson Architects, Michael Goldrick, Project Management Director, Frasers Property, Bertram Beissel…
What is the Single Biggest Challenge in Constructing a Mile-high Tower?
Mar 2013 – Monthly Video Series; William Baker, SOM; Craig Gibbons, Arup; Andy Davids, Hyder Consulting; Mehdi Jalayerian, Environmental Systems Design; Ahmad Abdelrazaq, Samsung
Industry leaders answering this question include: William Baker, SOM; Craig Gibbons, Arup; Andy Davids, Hyder Consulting; Mehdi Jalayerian, Environmental Systems Design, Inc.; and Ahmad Abdelrazaq, Samsung.
Track 1: The China Context for Tall Q & A
19 Sep 2012 – Presentation at CTBUH 2012 9th World Congress, Shanghai; Panel Questions & Answers
The Track 1 panel consisting of: Junjie Zhang, East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI); Brian Lee & William Baker, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) Chicago; and Ole Scheeren, Büro Ole Scheeren, take questions from delegates.
Considering Place in an Integrated Approach to Tall
19 Sep 2012 – Presentation at CTBUH 2012 9th World Congress, Shanghai; Brian Lee & William Baker, SOM
The rapid development of Chinese cities has provided unique opportunities to create architecture that either responds to its context or, in the case of emerging cities, creates new urban identities. These opportunities have yielded some of the most…
Interview: Jin Mao Tower
18 Sep 2012 – 2012 Shanghai Congress Interviews; William Baker, SOM
William Baker of SOM is interviewed by Jeff Herzer during the 2012 CTBUH Shanghai Congress at the Jin Mao, Shanghai. William discusses the Jin Mao Building and it's place in the history of the Chinese skyscraper.
Hypertowers: Integrated Design Concepts for the 21st Century Skyscraper
Oct 2011 – Presentation at CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; William Baker Skidmore, SOM
William F. Baker speaks on hypertowers at the 2011 Seoul Conference and design concepts for the 21st century.
Seoul Conference 2011 Track Session 01: Q&A
Oct 2011 – Presentation at CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; William F. Baker, SOM; Ghang Lee, Yonsei University; Chee Kyeong Kim, Sunmoon University; Kermin Chok, Meinhardt; Young Sang Cho, Hanyang University
Question & Answers session for Track Session 01.
2010 Awards - Session 2 Q&A
21 Oct 2010 – CTBUH "9th Annual Awards"; Panel Questions & Answers
The Session Two speaker panel consisting of: George Downing, Downing; Alex Whitbread, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios; George J. Efstathiou, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; William Baker, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP; and Beatriz Seinuk-Ackerman,…
Best Tall Building Middle East & Africa: Burj Khalifa: A New Typology for Tall Buildings
21 Oct 2010 – CTBUH "9th Annual Awards"; William Baker & George J. Efstathiou, SOM
The Burj Khalifa’s unprecedented height required substantial innovation in design techniques, building systems, and construction processes. The building reaches its incredible height in a graceful and beautiful form, Y-shaped in plan and carefully…
CTBUH 9th Annual Awards Dinner
21 Oct 2010 – CTBUH "9th Annual Awards"; Dinner 2010
The 9th Annual Awards Ceremony & Dinner was held in Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall, on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, Chicago. In a surprise move the CTBUH announced that the Burj Khalifa had won the inaugural new "Global Icon"…
Supertalls: The Next-Generation
5 Feb 2010 – Presentation at CTBUH 2010 Mumbai Conference; William Baker, SOM
With the completion of the Burj Dubai, one is left to question: how much higher can we go? Undoubtedly, the lessons learned during the design and construction of Burj Dubai will inform the development of the next generation of supertalls. Equally…
Plenary 2 Panel Questions and Answers
4 Mar 2008 – Presentation at CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; HE Mohamed Ali Alabbar of Emaar; Adrian Smith, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture; William Baker, SOM
The panel of Plenary Session 2, HE Mohamed Ali Alabbar of Emaar, Adrian Smith of Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture and William F. Baker of SOM, answer questions of the CTBUH 8th World Congress audience.
Engineering the World’s Tallest
4 Mar 2008 – Presentation at CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; William Baker, D. Stanton Korista & Lawrence C. Novak, SOM
William Baker, SOM, talked about the structural engineering of Burj Dubai at the CTUH 8th Wrold Congress in Dubai. He mentioned that the goal of the Burj Dubai Tower was not simply to be the world’s highest building; but to embody the world’s highest…
Tapered and Twisted Towers
26 Oct 2006 – Presentation at CTBUH 2006 Chicago Conference; William Baker, SOM
William Baker, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; reviews the structural challenges and opportunities of several tapered and twisted projects, offers solutions to the challenges and examines the expression of these solutions at the CTBUH 2006 Chicago…
Q & A - Session 6
26 Oct 2006 – Presentation at CTBUH 2006 Chicago Conference;
The Session 6 speaker panel consisting of Robert Halvorson, Halvorson & Partners; Nicholas Billotti, Turner Construction; William Baker and Darren Rizza, Skidmore Owings & Merrill; Amar Hanspal and Jonathan Knowles, Autodesk Collaboration Solutions;…

William Baker Related Papers/Research

Next-Generation Supertall Tower Form Determinants: A Study of the Tianjin CTF Finance Centre
17 Oct 2016 – Cities to Megacities: Shaping Dense Vertical Urbanism; Brian Lee, William Baker, Inho Rhee & Ronald Johnson, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
This paper puts forth the elements of an integrated design approach to mixed-use supertall towers that is based on rationally creative strategies that encourage efficiency, functionality, and beauty. SOM’s Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Finance Centre…
Case Study: Pearl River Tower, Guangzhou
Jun 2014 – CTBUH Journal, 2014 Issue II; Richard Tomlinson II, William Baker, Luke Leung, et al. Skidmore Owings & Merrill
SOM’s design for the 71-story Pearl River Tower in Guangzhou, China, was selected in a 2005 competition. The 309-meter-tall high-performance building was designed with energy efficiency as its top priority.
The Special Nature of the European Skyscraper
Jun 2013 – CTBUH Journal, 2013 Issue II; Viewpoints: The London Conference
European architecture is at a crossroads. Its commercial and environmental realities are driving buildings ever-higher, but not all are convinced. In this article – contributed by various speakers at the London Conference – we ask: What is special…
Case Study: Greenland's Suzhou Center, Wujiang
Sep 2012 – CTBUH Journal, 2012 Issue III; Ross Wimer, William Baker, Mark Nagis & Aaron Mazeika, SOM
At 358 meters, Greenland Group Suzhou Center marks the Wujiang waterfront with an aerodynamic form that has a unique presence, while accommodating its program with economy and efficiency. The design incorporates passive ventilation techniques through…
Considering Place in an Integrated Approach to Tall Building Design
Sep 2012 – CTBUH 2012 9th World Congress, Shanghai; Brian Lee, William Baker & Luke Leung, SOM
The rapid development of modern Chinese cities has provided designers and developers with unique opportunities to create architecture that either responds to its existing context or creates entirely new urban identities.
Wider Impacts: Tall Buildings as a Viable Proposition
2 Oct 2011 – CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue III; Leslie E. Robertson, LERA; William Baker, SOM; Eugene Kohn, KPF
Three leading designers in the tall building industry share their take on the changes to the tall building industry and the impact of 9/11 on their design.
Proposed Methodology To Determine Seismic Performance Factors For Steel Diagrid Framed Systems
Jan 2010 – 13th U.S. Japan Workshop; William Baker, Charles Besjak, Mark Sarkisian et al., SOM
This paper presents a proposed methodology for the reliable determination of seismic performance factors for steel diagrid framed seismic force-resisting systems.
Case Study: Trump International Hotel & Tower
Aug 2009 – CTBUH Journal, 2009 Issue III; William Baker & Richard F. Tomlinson, SOM; Paul James, Bovis Lend Lease; Andrew Weiss, The Trump Organization
Chicago, a city known worldwide for its tall buildings, welcomed a new supertall tower to its skyline this year. Bookended by the 442-meter (1,450-foot) Sears Tower to the south and the 344-meter (1,128-foot) John Hancock Center to the north.
Engineering the World’s Tallest - Burj Bubai
Mar 2008 – CTBUH 2008 8th World Congress, Dubai; William F. Baker, D. Stanton Korista & Lawrence C. Novak, SOM
The goal of the Burj Dubai Tower is not simply to be the world’s highest building; it’s to embody the world’s highest aspirations.
Full-Scale Validation of Finite Element Models for Tall Buildings
Oct 2005 – CTBUH 2005 7th World Congress, New York; William F. Baker, SOM
This paper overviews the monitoring program and then specifically focus on the finite element modeling of each of the buildings in the study. The paper will then present a sampling of the periods and damping ratios observed in full-scale under a…
The World’s Tallest Building, Burj Dubai, U.A.E.
Oct 2004 – CTBUH 2004 Seoul Conference; William F. Baker, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
In this paper, the process of shaping the 2000 ft tower, Burj Dubai, in order to mitigate wind effects and assist in resisting loads is discussed. In addition, the building’s structural systems are presented and discussed.
Integration of Design and Construction of the Tallest Building in Korea
Oct 2004 – CTBUH 2004 Seoul Conference; Ahmad Abdelrazaq, Samsung C&T; William F. Baker, SOM; Kwang R. Chung, Dong Yang Structural Engineers
Tower Palace III was conceived as a 93-story residential tower soaring 320 meters into Seoul’s skyline. However, concerns of the local residents and authorities over the building height resulted in a 73-story tower with the same gross floor area.
BUILDING SYSTEMS AND CONCEPTS - Structural Innovation
Feb 2001 – CTBUH 2001 6th World Congress, Melbourne; William F. Baker, SOM
Mankind had always lived close to the ground. During the thousands of years that preceded the birth of the skyscraper, life was limited by a reality of stairs and ladders. It was only after Elisha Otis invented a safer elevator that architects and…