A. Eugene Kohn, FAIA—co-founder of global firm Kohn Pedersen Fox—has died today at age 92. A celebrated architect, educator, and leader, Kohn passed away after a year-long battle with cancer.
"Gene was universally respected in the community for his ability to achieve consensus,” said James von Klemperer, KPF president, in a statement from the firm. “His seemingly limitless interest in other human beings gave him powerful insights into the social aspect of building programs and larger urban agendas. Without his easy charm and focused intensity, such notable projects as Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, the World Bank in Washington D.C., One Vanderbilt in New York, and the reinvigoration of Covent Garden in London would not have realized their full success.”
Born in 1930, Kohn earned his B.Arch. and M.Arch. at the University of Pennsylvania before ultimately launching KPF alongside partners William Pedersen, FAIA, and Sheldon Fox in 1976. With his guidance, the firm—which became the youngest outfit to win the AIA Architecture Firm Award in 1990—would go on to build projects around the world. The team's most recognizable works include 333 Wacker Drive in Chicago; the Philadelphia Airport, located in Kohn's hometown; the Shanghai World Financial Center; and the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Outside of his wide-ranging builds with KPF, Kohn—a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, among other international organizations—contributed to the profession in various ways throughout his career. In addition to teaching at Columbia University, as well as Harvard Business School and Harvard Graduate School of Design, the architect lent his talents to the National Building Museum and the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C., where he served as a trustee. Among many other roles, he also acted as chairman of the board for Publicolor, "a nonprofit youth development organization that uses design-based programs to engage at-risk students in education leading to college and a career," according to a statement from the firm.
As a result of his work, Kohn earned many accolades from a variety of institutions. Most recently, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and was named an Honorary Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects. He was also honored with the University of Pennsylvania's Kanter Tritsch Medal for Excellence in Architecture and Environmental Design in 2019, among other commendations.