An architect in Georgia has sued Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM), claiming the renowned firm stole a design he created as a graduate student and implemented it at the glassy One World Trade Center.

Image from original complaint.

Last week, Jeehoon Park filed a lawsuit against SOM for its “unauthorized copying, reproduction, and distribution of [his] copyrighted architectural work, and SOM’s provision of false and misleading statements regarding its architectural services, as well as false copyright management information.”

[See USGlass magazine’s extensive coverage over the past decade of One World Trade Center]

According to court documents filed in Manhattan federal court, Park completed his graduate thesis at College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in late 1999. It was a design titled “A Multi-Use High-Rise Concrete Building – Chicago’s Cityfront Center” (Cityfront ’99).

Park, who currently practices architecture at his firm Qube Architecture, says One World Trade Center is “strikingly similar” to the design of Cityfront ’99, which is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Both feature similar triangular-shaped glass facades.

Park claims SOM had access to Cityfront ’99 from at least 1997 through 2005, “including through one of Mr. Park’s thesis advisors who was an Associate Partner with SOM, through SOM’s head of structural engineering who met with Mr. Park and saw the design of Cityfront ’99, and through the public display of Mr. Park’s model for Cityfront ’99 both outside the highrise studio in the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (“CAIIT”) and in the lobby of SOM’s building.”

He is suing for an undisclosed amount in damages.

SOM hadn’t responded to USGNN.com™’s request for comment as of press time, though company spokesperson Elizabeth Kubany told Curbed, “One World Trade Center is arguably the highest profile project built in the world in recent memory, and these types of projects often attract people who deceptively claim ownership of the design.” She added that the lawsuit is “particularly suspect, because [Park] is filing suit in June of 2017 about a design that was first unveiled publicly in June 2005 and that was completed and leased in 2013.”

1 Comment

  1. Definitely copy. Hard to be original. Look at Boston Seaport District or NYC Hell’s Kitchen! Where’s the money coming from for these fantastic creations is my question? Dear Janet, please do not raise rates as fast as you say you will.

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