Success By Design

Peter Ruggiero's (B.Arch. ’81) projects include the 75-story Wenzhou Lucheng Plaza Landmark Tower in China (above), which is slated for completion in 2012.

Though he makes his living in the Windy City, global architect Peter Ruggiero (B.Arch. ’81) still calls the Big Apple home. After all, it was a hometown project in the 1960s that set him on his career path.

“As a little kid, I’d go to the Bay Ridge shoreline in Brooklyn with my parents and watch the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge being built,” says Ruggiero. “I knew at an early age I wanted to be an architect.” At NYIT, he studied under professors Aly Dadras, Robert Jensen, and John di Domenico, among others, and particularly enjoyed their courses on building systems, architectural theory, and studio work.

After earning his degree at NYIT, Ruggiero landed his first job as an architect at Bentel & Bentel on Long Island. He later earned a Master of Architecture and Urban Design at Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 1984 and soon returned to New York to join the global architecture firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) LLP, where he still works today as a design partner.

“That is what I ultimately wanted to be involved in—a large architecture firm,” says Ruggiero. “I was attracted to the scale of the work, as well as the ability to design big projects and to influence cities.” 

Among his architectural inspirations are forms that evoke simplicity, efficiency, and logic—elements he finds in both manmade and natural environments. Many of Ruggiero’s designs focus on environmental sustainability while maintaining a unique architectural profile that meets the needs of his clients.

For 18 years, he worked out of SOM’s New York City office on projects ranging from city hospitals to major transportation hubs such as Newark International Air-port and John F. Kennedy International Airport. Of all his New York City projects, however, Ruggiero considers the new 7 World Trade Center, a 52-story Manhattan skyscraper completed in 2006, a career milestone. The original building, constructed in 1987, was destroyed by debris following the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11.

“This was the first building built since Sept. 11, and a project that influenced the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan,” he says proudly. As a senior designer on the project, he contributed to the new building’s design, which includes 1.7 million square feet of office space.

In 2003, Ruggiero relocated to SOM’s Chicago office to work on projects in China, Russia, and the Middle East—including the Wenzhou Lucheng Plaza Landmark Tower, Plot 16 in Moscow, and the Rolex Tower in Dubai. He also led the design team for the new International Treaty Organization Headquarters in Belgium and the Dawangjing Master Plan in Beijing.

Ruggiero notes that projects in newly developing cities such as Tianjin and Wenzhou in China are also rewarding experiences. “It’s amazing when you really think about where these cities are now, and how they can be global centers of the 21st century,” he says.

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