A. Eugene (Gene) Kohn, a longtime trustee—and even longer-time member—of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), has been appointed as Life Trustee for his “meaningful, distinctive, and extraordinary” service to the Washington, D.C. non-profit research and education organization. The elevation of Kohn, founder and chairman of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), to Life Trustee by the ULI Global Governing Trustees marks the first time the honor has been bestowed on an architect.
“Throughout my professional career, ULI’s values have served as a guiding principle,” said Kohn in a statement. “ULI has tremendous reach throughout the architectural community and has catalyzed positive change across the globe. After four decades as a member of ULI, I’m deeply grateful to be named a Life Trustee.”
Kohn first joined the ULI in 1982, six years after co-founding New York-based KPF alongside William Pedersen and the late Sheldon Fox. Best-known for its global portfolio of superlatively tall buildings, major stateside KPF projects include Hudson Yards in New York, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, Chicago’s 333 Wacker Drive, and World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Notably, in 1990—14 years after it was established—KPF received the American Institute of Architects’ Architecture Firm Award, making it the youngest firm to receive the coveted honor at the time. Notable projects in the works include Parkside Seoul, a new mixed-use district in the South Korean capital city and Singapore’s Changi Airport Terminal 5 with design partner Heatherwick Studio.
As detailed in a press announcement, factors considered by the ULI’s Global Nomination Committee for potential Life Trustees include a member’s standing and reputation within the real estate and land use industry and their respective contributions to the ULI and its philanthropic arm, the ULI Foundation.
Kohn’s engagement with the ULI has been nothing short of prodigious. “Gene’s enormous accomplishments and unique capacity for leadership put him in a league of his own,” said Owen Thomas, CEO of BXP and past Global Chair of ULI. Among other roles, Kohn, a ULI Foundation Governor, has served as jury member and chair for numerous ULI competitions, including the Hines Student Competition, Americas Awards for Excellence, and ULI Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development.
In addition to his involvement with various ULI initiatives and activities, Kohn has also extended his largesse to the organization’s namesake foundation. Coinciding with the naming of Kohn as a Life Trustee, KPF and the Kohn family have announced the contribution of $1 million to endow the annual A. Eugene Kohn/KPF Fellowship; the funds are earmarked for research on low carbon design and related activities at the ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate. Per the announcement, efforts will focus on “achieving carbon neutrality through design, using low-carbon materials, promoting transit-oriented development, increasing urban green space, and facilitating progressive urban and community policy, with strategies, learnings, and best practices shared with the ULI community and broader real estate industry.”
“KPF is thrilled to have the opportunity to give back,” said firm president James von Klemperer,” adding: “We hope that by enabling ULI to expand on its crucial climate goals, we can create a more sustainable future for cities across the globe.”