Architect A. Eugene Kohn, co-founder of the design firm behind some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers, has died from cancer aged 92, the company announced Thursday.
In a statement, Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), whose best-known projects include New York’s One Vanderbilt and the Shanghai World Financial Center, described Kohn’s architectural legacy as “enduring.”
“With characteristic optimism, diplomacy and unfailing good will, he brought together designers and engineers, clients and civic leaders to achieve significant projects that have changed our cities around the world for the better.”
Born in 1930, Kohn grew up in Philadelphia before studying under the celebrated Modernist Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania. He established KPF, alongside William Pedersen and Sheldon Fox, in 1976, and spent the next four decades helping mold the company into one of the giants of modern architecture.
The firm, which Kohn served as founding president and chairman, is currently the USA’s 10th largest architecture firm by revenue, according to an annual ranking produced by Building Design + Construction magazine.
During Kohn’s time at KPF, the firm designed everything from university campus buildings to airport terminals in cities including Philadelphia and Abu Dhabi. But it is best known for gravity-defying high-rises — the tallest of which, the Ping An International Finance Centre in Shenzhen, China, soars 1,966 feet above the ground.
The company is behind four of the world’s 10 tallest buildings, having also designed the Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea, and Citic Tower — better known as China Zun — in Beijing. It is also responsible for New York skyscrapers on Fifth Avenue, Broadway and Times Square, as well as for master planning the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.
The company’s current president, James von Klemperer, noted Kohn’s involvement in projects as diverse as the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C and the transformation of London’s historic Covent Garden.
“His seemingly limitless interest in other human beings gave him powerful insights into the social aspect of building programs and larger urban agendas,” Von Klemperer said in a statement.
In addition to his work at KPF, Kohn taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and was an executive fellow at the latter’s Graduate School of Design. Earlier this year, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of London, where his firm recently completed one of its most recognizable projects 52 Lime Street, better known as “The Scalpel.”
He is survived by his wife Barbara, three children and nine grandchildren.