By April Baltensperger

Adrian Smith, class of 1966, designed the tallest structure in world.

“Study hard and follow your dreams.” This is the advice Smith, internationally successful architect, gave to students pursuing architecture when he made a visit to the A&M campus last week. Smith spoke to students at the Rowlett 2011 conference this past Friday in Rudder Theatre about achieving their goals. He has designed some of the world’s most recognizable structures, including the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates, the world’s tallest structure. More important than designing internationally renowned buildings, however, Smith’s main goal is to help others and to protect the environment.

“My goal is to in some way contribute to society with the work that I do,” Smith said.  “Now it’s morphing into a role of not just architecture but bringing awareness to the people about sustainability. Architecture can be very influential to others. We have a voice to help inform developers of issues that affect their daily lives. I try to foster that.”

The A&M College of Architecture was honored to have Adrian Smith speak and spend time with students for the day. Before his presentation Smith gave the architecture students special attention by visiting their classrooms and viewing their projects.

“During his visit here, he patiently reviewed students’ work at their desks, took pictures with them and signed autographs and copies of his books,” said Valerian Miranda, Thomas A.

Bullock endowed chairman in leadership and innovation director. “It was a great honor for us to have him here to interact with our students, and we look forward to more opportunities for his involvement with the College in the future. The College of Architecture is extremely proud of Adrian Smith and his professional accomplishments.”

Smith is known for designing structures that are sensitive to the physical environment. Pearl River Tower, the world’s first net-zero energy skyscraper that he designed with Gordon Gill, is currently under construction in Guangzhou China. Smith creates highly sustainable projects, integrating energy-efficient systems and technologies into his designs.

“One of the projects we’ve started is the decarbonization of the central area of Chicago,” Smith said. “Roughly 1 percent of building stock gets rebuilt every year, and there are problems of waste and carbon emissions in the older buildings because they are built between the ’50s and ’80s; that is a hazard. So we did research into all buildings in downtown Chicago, about how to reduce carbon emissions for the United States. We’re asking what does it take to get this area to carbon reduction of 80 percent by 2020.  That is our challenge.”

Adrian Smith spent his college years at Texas A&M; he was involved in the Corps of Cadets while studying architecture. He believes that the program provided him with influential professors and a good education that prepared him well for a career. Friday, he was presented with his Class of 1966 ring at the Rowlett lecture in the presence of many of his classmates.

“Adrian Smith personifies what the College of Architecture at Texas A&M is committed to do: to prepare the next generation of leaders in the professions we serve in the natural, built and virtual environments” said Jorge A. Vanegas, dean of the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University.  “His outstanding career and the superb excellence of the buildings he has created are an inspiration to our students and faculty, and to the profession at large. He embodies the spirit of design, but never forgetting that what he designs is for people.”

Smith has designed structures all over the globe, won more than 110 major awards for design excellence and is a forerunner in designing environmentally sustainable buildings. Adrian Smith has many accomplishments under his name, yet he said he never forgets that passion, discipline and hard work along with a desire to help society and protect the environment are the most important factors in his career.

“Develop a philosophy to live by, pursue it, and for the right reasons,” Smith said. “Inherently if people follow their gut about what they’re doing, they’ll do the right thing. If you’re following a dream because that’s where the money is, where the glory is, it is probably not the right reason.”