Building a New Foundation for the World’s Leading Architectural Firm
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill | som.com
From Chicago’s John Hancock Center and Willis Tower to Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and the One World Trade Center in New York City, some of the world’s tallest and most iconic buildings have one thing in common: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). One of the leading architectural and engineering firms in the world, SOM is about more than just skyscrapers; in its 76-year history, SOM has completed over 10,000 projects in over 50 countries, including schools, museums, libraries, observatories, sports arenas, hospitals, airports, and more. Along the way, SOM has been recognized with over 1,600 professional awards.
What They Needed
SOM’s existing website was built on an aging Cold Fusion content management system that did not cleanly separate design from content, which made updating the site very time-consuming. Because SOM needed more flexibility and better administrative tools, the open source Drupal content management platform was a natural choice. As part of the migration, SOM also wanted to improve the management and organization of content for project portfolios, awards, and news.
How We Helped
Palantir worked with SOM’s KM team to develop a brand-new Drupal architecture that would improve site maintenance while still supporting and maintaining the layout flexibility of their current site design. This was done by leveraging Drupal’s Panels and Panelizer modules, which provide administrative users with a high degree of control over the content of their site.
To help site visitors better understand all of the awards SOM has won over the decades, Palantir helped architect and build new search and sort tools for the site. Not only can users view awards by type and year, but they can also see awards arranged geographically on a map, and in a timeline view. Also, recently-won awards can be more easily featured on the new site. On the backend, the site’s administrative tools have been streamlined to support these multiple display options and make the section easier to manage.
SOM’s extensive online client portfolio is powered by their internal project management information system. Project details and information for hundreds of projects are fed to the public site, along with thousands of stunning images. Palantir leveraged Drupal’s ability to integrate with third-party systems to create a new online project portfolio that can be automatically updated as needed.
Palantir developed automated scripts to import internal database content to the Drupal databases. Because much of SOM’s site content is in Chinese, it was not only important to ensure that all of the content was migrated correctly, but that the site’s administrative tools also supported multiple languages and character sets.
SOM’s new content management system removes administrative bottlenecks and provides a sustainable and maintainable foundation for future growth. The goal of the new CMS is to improve visitor engagement by facilitating access to a wealth of constantly-updated projects and ideas.