Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
  • Mark Sarkisian

About Mark Sarkisian

Mark Sarkisian leads Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP’s San Francisco-based Structural Engineering Studio – an award winning group that collaborates with the firm’s other disciplines to create innovative and integrated structural solutions. His diverse portfolio includes commercial, laboratory, medical, historic, transportation, residential/hotel, and educational facilities, as well as mixed-use skyscrapers.

Scientific research, particularly in the area of seismic design, informs Mr. Sarkisian’s approach. He has published more than 100 papers examining seismic behavior, tall building design, and innovative uses of materials in structures. Over his 25 year-long career, he has received over 50 awards for innovation in structural engineering.

Mark’s career has focused on developing innovative structural engineering solutions for over 100 major building projects—several among the…


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About Mark Sarkisian

Mark Sarkisian leads Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP’s San Francisco-based Structural Engineering Studio – an award winning group that collaborates with the firm’s other disciplines to create innovative and integrated structural solutions. His diverse portfolio includes commercial, laboratory, medical, historic, transportation, residential/hotel, and educational facilities, as well as mixed-use skyscrapers.

Scientific research, particularly in the area of seismic design, informs Mr. Sarkisian’s approach. He has published more than 100 papers examining seismic behavior, tall building design, and innovative uses of materials in structures. Over his 25 year-long career, he has received over 50 awards for innovation in structural engineering.

Mark’s career has focused on developing innovative structural engineering solutions for over 100 major building projects—several among the world’s tallest—including the 421 meter-tall Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, China; the 337 meter-tall Tianjin World Financial Center, Tianjin, China; the 412 meter-tall Al Hamra Fidrous Tower, Kuwait City, Kuwait; the 42-story St. Regis Hotel and Residences, San Francisco, California; the US Embassy in Beijing, China; and the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, California.

Mark holds nine U.S. Patents and five international patents for high-performance seismic structural mechanisms designed to protect buildings in areas of high seismicity and for seismic and environmentally responsible structural systems. He is licensed to practice civil and structural engineering in 20 states. He has recently written and published a book titled “Designing Tall Buildings – Structure as Architecture,” and he teaches Integrated Studio Design courses focused on collaborative design opportunities that include students from the University of California, Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Stanford University, California Polytechnic State University, Northeastern University, and Pratt Institute. Mark also delivers lectures at universities around the world, with emphasis on creative structural engineering solutions in architecture.

Mark received his BS Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Connecticut where he is a Fellow of the Academy of Distinguished Engineers, and his MS Degree in Structural Engineering from Lehigh University. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Clarkson University.

CTBUH Involvement

  • Height and Data Committee (2013 – Present)
  • CTBUH Fellow (2016)
  • Past Roles:
  • Advisory Group (1999 – 2015)
  • Expert Peer Review Committee (2014 – 2015)
  • Working Group: Structural Design of Steel Buildings, Co-Chair (1999 – 2001)
  • Conference, Speaker (Shanghai 2014)
  • Conference, Session Chair (Shanghai 2012)
  • International Research Seed Funding, Peer Review Panel (2014)

Initiatives Involving Mark Sarkisian

Master's Thesis Challenge

28 Aug 2017, CTBUH News – CTBUH is launching a new academic initiative, empowering Master's-level…

CTBUH Names Shanghai Tower “2016 Best Tall Building Worldwide”

4 Nov 2016, CTBUH News – The CTBUH Awards Jury named Shanghai Tower, Shanghai as the “2016 Best Tall…

Board of Trustees Names Lifetime Award Winners and 2016 Fellows

14 Jul 2016, Awards Event – CTBUH has named its 2016 Fellows and two Lifetime Achievement Award…

Initiatives Involving Mark Sarkisian

Master's Thesis Challenge
28 Aug 2017, Chicago – CTBUH News
CTBUH is launching a new academic initiative, empowering Master's-level architecture students to research new possibilities in rope-less elevator technology.
CTBUH Names Shanghai Tower “2016 Best Tall Building Worldwide”
4 Nov 2016, Chicago – CTBUH News
The CTBUH Awards Jury named Shanghai Tower, Shanghai as the “2016 Best Tall Building Worldwide” at the 15th Annual CTBUH Awards Ceremony and Dinner.
Board of Trustees Names Lifetime Award Winners and 2016 Fellows
14 Jul 2016, Chicago – Awards Event
CTBUH has named its 2016 Fellows and two Lifetime Achievement Award recipients: Dr. Cheong Koon Hean of the Singapore HDB, and Ron Klemencic of MKA.
CTBUH Height Committee Meeting
7 Nov 2014, Chicago – Event Report
The following topics were addressed: co-joined buildings, criteria for completion, gross-to-net building height, and structural definitions.
Considering the Whole Life Cycle Workshop, Shanghai 2014
16 Sep 2014, Shanghai – Event Report
This session brought building environmental performance issues to the forefront in building design, a field that has been criticized in the past for its resource-heavy construction.
CTBUH Leaders Discuss Ways to Broaden Council Membership
15 Sep 2014, Shanghai – Event Report
The leadership of the Council convened in the Leaders Meeting to participate in discussions about how to widen the Council’s reach and effectiveness.
CTBUH San Francisco Hosts Capacity Crowd for Transbay Discussion
3 Jun 2014, San Francisco – Event Report
A panel discussion featuring the two tallest buildings in San Francisco, Salesforce Tower and 181 Fremont Street, was attended by approximately 125 people.
Global Representatives Workshop, Shanghai
18 Sep 2012, Shanghai – Event Report
CTBUH leaders and representatives from around the world gathered to discuss on-going initiatives and better ways to serve members and grow the Council.
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.
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.

See all initiatives involving Mark Sarkisian

Mark Sarkisian Related Resources

Interview: Pin-Fuse Seismic System

3 Nov 2016 – 2016 Awards Ceremony/Symposium Interviews
Mark Sarkisian & Rupa Garai, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Innovations in Building Performance and Resiliency: Pin-Fuse Seismic Systems

3 Nov 2016 – CTBUH "15th Annual Awards"
Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Rupa Garai, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

2016 Awards - Session 2 Q&A

3 Nov 2016 – CTBUH "15th Annual Awards"
Chair: David Malott, KPF

See all videos

Site | Structure | Architecture – Projects that Create Change

Sep 2017 – International Journal of High-Rise Buildings Volume 6 Number 3
Leo Chow & Mark P. Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Mechanical Amplification of Relative Movements in Damped Outriggers for Wind and Seismic Response Mitigation

Mar 2016 – International Journal of High-Rise Buildings Volume 5 Number 1
Neville Mathias, Francesco Ranaudo, and Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Three-dimensional Exterior Bracing Systems for Tall Buildings

26 Oct 2015 – Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City
Rupa Garai, Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias & Andrew Krebs, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

See all papers/research

Mark Sarkisian Related Videos

Interview: Pin-Fuse Seismic System
3 Nov 2016 – 2016 Awards Ceremony/Symposium Interviews; Mark Sarkisian & Rupa Garai, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Mark Sarkisian, Partner of Structural Engineering, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Rupa Garai, Structural Engineering Associate, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, are interviewed by Chris Bentley regarding the 2016 CTBUH Innovation Award Winner, Pin-Fuse…
Innovations in Building Performance and Resiliency: Pin-Fuse Seismic Systems
3 Nov 2016 – CTBUH "15th Annual Awards"; Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Rupa Garai, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Throughout history, it has been proven time and again that the simplest innovations can often offer the greatest and widest ranging impact. This is certainly the case of the Pin-Fuse Seismic System, which has the capability of significantly improving…
2016 Awards - Session 2 Q&A
3 Nov 2016 – CTBUH "15th Annual Awards"; Chair: David Malott, KPF
Ron Klemencic, Chairman & CEO, Magnusson Klemencic Associates; Joseph Chou, Chairman, Taipei Financial Center Corporation; Mark Sarkisian, Partner of Structural Engineering, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Rupa Garai, Structural Engineering Associate,…
Embodied Carbon in Our Future Cities
16 Sep 2014 – Presentation at CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference; Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Innovative planning for cities of the future is essential. Cities are the solution to responsible habitation as issues of the environment gain increasing importance. Even early at planning stages, cities, districts, parcels, and buildings can be…
Interview: Mark Sarkisian
16 Sep 2014 – 2014 Shanghai Conference Interviews; Mark Sarkisian, SOM
Mark Sarkisian of SOM is interviewed by Chris Bentley during the 2014 CTBUH Shanghai Conference at the Jin Mao Tower. Mark discusses sustainability of the urban habitat.
2014 Shanghai International Conference - Technical Workshop 04 - Q & A
16 Sep 2014 – Presentation at CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference; Panel Questions & Answers
2014 Shanghai International Conference Technical Workshop 04 Questions & Answers session with speakers Don Davies, MKA; Mark Sarkisian, SOM; Dario Trabucco, CTBUH / Iuav University of Venice; Mic Patterson, Enclos; and Maurice Hermens, Royal…
What Techniques Will Define Next Generation Tall Buildings?
May 2013 – Monthly Video Series; Aybars Asci, SOM; Gianni Bardazzi, Maire Tecnimont; Peter Chipchase, Arup; Henry Cobb, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; Helmut Jahn, Murphy/Jahn; Yansong Ma, MAD Architects; et al
Industry leaders answering this question include: Gianni Bardazzi, Maire Tecnimont; Peter Chipchase, Arup; Henry Cobb, Pei Cobb Freed; Helmut Jahn, Murphy/Jahn; Hafid Rakem, Ateliers Jean Nouvel; Massimo Roj, Progetto CMR; Mark Sarkisian, SOM;…
Best Tall Building Featured Finalist: Al Hamra Tower: The Sculpted Tower
18 Oct 2012 – CTBUH "11th Annual Awards"; Mark Sarkisian & Aybars Asci, SOM
The Al Hamra Firdous Tower was intended to stand as an icon to symbolize national pride, while also providing highly leasable office space. To successfully create the delicate form of the tower and unique spaces within, extensive structural…
Interview: Al Hamra Tower
18 Oct 2012 – 2012 Awards Ceremony/Symposium Interviews; Mark Sarkisian & Aybars Asci, SOM
As one of the Featured Finalists invited to present at the 2012 Awards Symposium, Al Hamra Tower provided a diverse array of topics for designers Aybars Asci and Mark Sarkisian to discuss. In their interview from the Symposium, the duo touched on the…
2012 Awards - Session 1 Q&A
18 Oct 2012 – CTBUH "11th Annual Awards"; Panel Questions & Answers
The Session One speaker panel consisting of: Helmut Jahn, Murphy/Jahn; Aybars Asci & Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Gianni Bardazzi, Maire Technimont; Massimo Roj, Progetto CMR; took questions from the audience.
Track 6: The Developer View Q & A
19 Sep 2012 – Presentation at CTBUH 2012 9th World Congress, Shanghai; Panel Questions & Answers
Track 6 panelists including: Jerry Yin, SOHO; John C. Portman, III, John Portman & Associates; and Eugene Seah, Langdon & Seah Singapore take questions from delegates.
Seoul Conference 2011 Track Session 18: Q&A
Oct 2011 – Presentation at CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; Ji Young Kim, Daewoo E&C; Mark Sarkisian, SOM; Leslie Robertson & Saw Teen See, Leslie E. Robertson Associates;; James Von Klemperer, Kohn Pedersen Fox David Paul McLean, Lotte Engineering & Construction; Charles D. Clift, Curtain Wall Design and Consulting; Jungmyon Francis Lee, BAUM Architects
Question & Answers session for Track Session 18.
Al Hamra Firdous Tower
Oct 2011 – Presentation at CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; Aybars Asci & Mark Sarkisian, SOM
Aybars Asci specializes in the design implementation of complex commercial and institutional projects. He presents on the Al Hamra Firdous Tower.
Tall Tales: Interrogating the typology of the Tall Building
Oct 2011 – Presentation at CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; Mark Sarkisian, SOM
The ongoing and ubiquitous project of modernism has acclimated humanity to the universality of the tall building as a type. Transformations and mutations of the type have emerged subsequently - including tall buildings essentially without programs,…

Mark Sarkisian Related Papers/Research

Site | Structure | Architecture – Projects that Create Change
Sep 2017 – International Journal of High-Rise Buildings Volume 6 Number 3; Leo Chow & Mark P. Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
China’s rapid growth has created great opportunities for design and construction of projects that not only transform sites but cities. This work combines local, national, and international expertise in developing memorable designs that seek to…
Mechanical Amplification of Relative Movements in Damped Outriggers for Wind and Seismic Response Mitigation
Mar 2016 – International Journal of High-Rise Buildings Volume 5 Number 1; Neville Mathias, Francesco Ranaudo, and Mark Sarkisian, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
The concept of introducing viscous damping devices between outriggers and perimeter columns in tall buildings to provide supplementary damping and improve performance, reduce structural costs, and increase available usable area was developed and…
Three-dimensional Exterior Bracing Systems for Tall Buildings
26 Oct 2015 – Global Interchanges: Resurgence of the Skyscraper City; Rupa Garai, Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias & Andrew Krebs, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
The use of outriggers with and without belt trusses has become an expedient of choice for harnessing the three dimensional potential of tall buildings to resist lateral loads. Outrigger components typically link core structures to perimeter…
Embodied Carbon in Our Future Cities
16 Sep 2014 – CTBUH 2014 Shanghai Conference Proceedings; Mark Sarkisian & David Shook, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Innovative planning for cities of the future is essential. Cities are the solution to responsible habitation as issues of the environment gain increasing importance. Even early at planning stages, cities, districts, parcels, and buildings can be…
The Al Hamra Firdous Tower
Oct 2011 – CTBUH 2011 Seoul Conference; Aybars Asci & Mark Sarkisian, SOM
Al Hamra Firdous Tower, rising 412 meters and scheduled for completion in fall 2011, will be the tallest structure in Kuwait. A new landmark, this supertall expresses a remarkable visual dynamism, with concrete shear walls, spiraling around a central…
World’s Tallest Steel Shear Walled Building
Feb 2011 – CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue I; Mark Sarkisian & Neville Mathias, SOM; Dasui Wang, ECADI; Sam Lee, Guangzhou Scientific Computing Consultants
Because of its iconic slender form, a key design challenge was to develop an efficient lateral system capable of resisting wind and seismic lateral load; the article analyzes innovative structural system considerations relying entirely on the use of…
Organic and Natural Forms in Building Design
May 2010 – ASCE/SEI 2010 Structures Congress; Mark Sarkisian, Peter Lee, Eric Long & David Shook, SOM
Safe, efficient structural forms are abundant in nature. The challenge, however, is to quantify these forms and to derive behavior that is adaptable, constructible and cost effective. Three conceptual structural systems are considered which exemplify…
Jinao Tower – The Design Integration of Structural Efficiency
1 Jan 2010 – Munich Tall Building Conference 2010; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Eric Long & C. Keith Boswell, SOM
The 56 story, 232 m tall Jinao Tower in Nanjing, China, is a next-generation tower which maximizes performance, efficiency, and occupant experience. Its faceted form is derived from the juxtaposition of an innovative double-skin façade and an…
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.
New Frontiers in the Design of Integrated Exterior Wall Systems
1 Jan 2009 – ASCESEI 2009; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Eric Long & Peter Lee, SOM
How do we see structures? Frames decorated with exterior walls? Some of these walls are quite fancy, using expensive materials to create a desired aesthetic often responding with color and geometry to particular site conditions or sometimes simply…
Optimization Tools for the Design of Structures
Jan 2009 – ASCESEI 2009; Mark Sarkisian, Eric Long, Chung-Soo Doo & David Shook, SOM
Structural optimization has attracted increasing interest in the building industry, especially in the design of high-rise buildings. By selectively distributing structural members in a building, the efficiency of the resulting design can be optimized…
Steel Plate Shear Walls, Efficient Structural Solution for Slender High-rise in China
Jul 2008 – Seismic Engineering international Conference 2008; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Eric Long & Zhihui Huang, SOM
The 329.6 meter tall 74-story Jinta Tower in Tianjin, China, is expected, when complete, to be the tallest building in the world with slender steel plate shear walls used as the primary lateral load resisting system. With an overall aspect ratio…
Sculpted High-rise The Al Hamra Tower
Nov 2007 – Structural Engineers World Congress 2007; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Aaron Mazeika & et al, SOM
At 412m tall on completion, the Al Hamra Tower is set to be amongst the tallest buildings in the world. Setting it apart from other super high-rise buildings is its unique sculpted form.
Jin Mao Tower’s Influence on China’s New Innovative Tall Buildings
May 2006 – 2006 International Seminar of Design and Construction Technologies of Super High-Rise Buildings; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Eric Long & Aaron Mazeika, SOM
The 56 story, 232 m tall Jinao Tower in Nanjing, China, is a next-generation tower which maximizes performance, efficiency, and occupant experience. Its faceted form is derived from the juxtaposition of an innovative double-skin façade and an…
Effective Stiffness Modeling of Shear Walls for Seismic Analysis of High-rise Structures
Oct 2003 – SEAOC Proceedings for Convention 2003; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias, Cem Ozer & Jean-Pierre Chakar, SOM
The design of the lateral load resisting systems in highrise structures is very often governed by the requirements of drift control. This is true even in buildings with relatively rigid lateral systems that include shear walls. Appropriate modeling…
Seismic Design and Detailing of Compound Shear Wall Plan Configurations
Jan 2003 – Structural Engineers Association Convention 2003; Mark Sarkisian, Neville Mathias & Eric Long, SOM
The Uniform Building Code and ACI offer only limited guidance for the design and detailing of shear walls of compound configurations such as “I”, “L”, “C”, and “T” shapes in plan. There is a dearth of examples for seismic design and detailing of such…
Design and Construction of the Jin Mao Tower's Mat Foundation
Jul 1998 – Structural Engineering World Congress 1998; Mark Sarkisian, Stan Korista & Ahmad Abdelrazaq, SOM
Looking from the Yangtze River toward the new Shanghai skyline, you cannot help noticing the ever changing color of the ultra-tall Jin Mao Tower with the movement of the sun as it has become the initial symbol of the new Pudong Financial District of…
Jin Mao Tower's Unique Structural System
Jan 1995 – 1995 Shanghai International Seminar; Mark Sarkisian, Stan Korista & Ahmad Abdelrazaq, SOM
The composite structural system for the Jin Mao Tower was designed to resist typhoon winds and earthquake forces and accommodate poor soil conditions while providing a very slender tower to be fully occupied for office and hotel uses.
Load Balanced Beams in Perimeter Frames of High-rise Buildings for Efficient Transfer of Column Loads
Jan 1992 – National Concrete Engineering Conference 1992; Mark Sarkisian, Stan Korista & Ernest Makkai, SOM
Using post-tensioned concrete perimeter frames for transferring columns in high-rise structures is an effective solution to strength and serviceability. These load balanced transfers allow columns to be transferred without the use of deep girders or…