Ryan Culligan


Design Principal


Ryan Culligan embraces an empirical approach to design, rooted in collaboration, interdisciplinary applied research and careful consideration of place, context, history and climate. His project work is expressive, driven by conceptual clarity and inspired by the natural world. He specializes in healthy, ecologically sensitive, large-scale mixed-use projects in the United States and around the world.

Ryan’s projects include a 20 million sq ft development in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand—the country’s first project to target LEED Neighborhood Development Platinum. One Bangkok utilizes sustainable engineering systems tailored to the local climate and establishes a vertical village designed to foster community wellbeing in a dense urban environment. For the two new concourses at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Ryan has developed a design concept around health, wellness and bringing nature inside to improve the passenger experience. At 400 Lake Shore Drive, a pair of towers located where the Chicago River meets Lake Michigan, Ryan drew inspiration from the site and the city’s rich architectural history to incorporate a cascading facade reminiscent of the surrounding waters, and a series of bay windows with floor-to-ceiling glass that reinterpret the iconic “Chicago window.”

Striking a balance between the natural and built world will define the future of architecture. It’s important to draw ideas from all disciplines and foster an inclusive approach to design that centers ecology, health, beauty and the human experience.

As a leader in SOM’s Chicago studio, Ryan is committed to elevating the design culture and discourse among his teams and building collaborative ties between academia and the firm. A frequent lecturer and studio critic at design programs around the country, including the University of Michigan, Illinois Institute of Technology, Columbia University and Harvard University, Ryan is a dedicated advocate and teacher for future generations of young designers.

Selected Work