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ASCE recognizes Bill Baker with prestigious award

CHICAGO — William F. Baker P.E., S.E., FASCE, FIStructE, structural engineering partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), has been recognized with a 2011 Outstanding Projects And Leaders (OPAL) Lifetime Award for Design from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

"Receiving the OPAL Award is certainly an honor for which I am very grateful," Baker said upon being notified of the recognition.

Established in 1999, the OPAL Awards recognize and honor outstanding civil engineering leaders whose lifetime accomplishments and achievements have made significant differences in one of five categories: design, construction, government, education and management. According to ASCE, ‘The awards are given to model civil engineers who have demonstrated outstanding lifetime achievement, leadership and a long-term commitment to excellence.’

Throughout his distinguished career, Baker has dedicated himself to structural innovation from small special structures to the design of tall buildings. His best known contribution has been to develop the "buttressed core" structural system for the Burj Khalifa, a system which, in conjunction with sophisticated wind engineering, makes it possible to construct skyscrapers of extreme height. The Burj Khalifa is currently the world’s tallest manmade structure.

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), three of the five tallest buildings topped out in 2009 are credited to SOM, where Baker leads the structural engineering: Burj Khalifa (Dubai), Nanjing Greenland Financial Center (Nanjing), and Trump International Hotel & Tower (Chicago).

Other notable projects include the Broadgate Exchange House (London), Korean Air Lines Operations Center (Seoul) Infinity Tower (Dubai), General Motors Renaissance Center — North Lobby (Detroit) and Raspberry Island – Schubert Club Band Shell (St. Paul).

In 2008, Baker received the Fazlur Rahman Khan Medal for lifetime achievement from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In 2009, he was the first American to receive the Fritz Leonhardt Prize (Germany) in recognition of his engineering accomplishments. And, in 2010, Baker was honored in London with The Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) Gold Medal, the Institution’s highest individual award for advancements in structural engineering.

Baker will receive the OPAL trophy at a gala banquet in the spring.