In a series of fascinating tales, Gene Kohn explains how he helped build one of
the most successful architecture firms in the world, offering inspiring lessons on
business leadership and design innovation that can be applied to many fields.
Founded on July 4, 1976, Kohn Pedersen Fox quickly became a darling of the
architectural press with groundbreaking buildings such as the headquarters for the
American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, 333
Wacker Drive in Chicago, the Procter & Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati, and the
World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC.
By the early 1990s, when most architecture firms in the U.S. were struggling to
survive a major recession, KPF was busy with significant buildings in London,
Germany, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia—pioneering a model of global
practice that has influenced architecture, design, and creative-services firms ever
since. Like any other business, though, KPF has stumbled along the way and
wrestled with crises. But through it all, it has remained innovative in a field that
changes all the time and often favors the newest star on the horizon.
Now in its fifth decade, the firm has shaped skylines and cities around the world
with iconic buildings such as the World Financial Center in Shanghai, Roppongi Hills
in Tokyo, the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, the DZ Bank Tower in
Frankfurt, the Goldman Sachs building in London, and Hudson Yards in New York.
Forthright and engaging, Kohn examines both award-winning achievements and
missteps in his 50-year career in architecture. In the process, he shows how his firm,
KPF, has helped change the buildings and cities where we live, work, learn, and play.
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A. Eugene Kohn is a founding partner and chairman of Kohn Pedersen Fox, one of the world’s top
architecture firms. He has been recognized with prestigious awards, including The National Building
Museum Chairman’s Award, The Skyscraper Museum Award, The Soane Foundation Honors, and the
Alumni Award of Merit by the University of Pennsylvania—the highest university-wide award presented
to alumni. He has also been recognized with the Wharton Real Estate Center’s Lifetime Achievement
Award, the University of Pennsylvania - PennDesign Dean’s Medal of Achievement, the highest honor
awarded by the institution, and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He is an Executive Fellow of the
Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, the first architect to be awarded this title, and has
taught at schools such as Harvard, Penn, UCLA, and Columbia. He currently serves as an emeritus board
member of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a trustee of the Urban Land Institute, and
chairman of Publicolor, a nonprofit youth development organization, and is a former a trustee of the
University of Pennsylvania.
Clifford Pearson is the editorial director of Kohn Pedersen Fox. He had been deputy editor-in-chief of
Architectural Record for many years and was the director of the University of Southern California’s
American Academy in China. He is the author of Indonesia: Design and Culture (Monacelli, 1998) and the
editor of Modern American Houses (Harry N. Abrams, 1996 and 2005).
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