In a series of personal and professional tales, KPF Co-Founder and Chairman 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.
The World by Design: The Story of a Global Architecture Firm traces the arc of an illustrious career from a desperate search for that first job to the creation of iconic skyscrapers around the world. Founded on July 4, 1976, Kohn Pedersen Fox quickly became a darling of the architectural press with ground-breaking buildings such as as 333 Wacker Driver in Chicago, the World Bank in Washington DC, and Procter & Gamble’s headquarters in Cincinnati.
By the early 1990s, when most architecture firms in the U.S. were struggling to survive a major recession, KPF had expanded its business to international markets with projects in London, Germany, Canada, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia. Kohn and his partners pioneered 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, the firm 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, KPF 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 Heron Tower in London, and Hudson Yards in New York. Of the world’s 10 tallest buildings, KPF has designed five.
Forthright and engaging, Kohn has created an engaging chronicle that is both a roadmap to innovative design and a primer for business leadership. He demonstrates with humor and humility how KPF has helped change the buildings and cities where we live, work, learn, and play.
Praise for The World by Design
“Great buildings give cities shape and character, and they inspire us to set our sights higher. This book pulls the curtain back on how they are brought to life.” —Michael R. Bloomberg, 108th mayor of New York City
“The World by Design is a must-read for all of those who love cities and the buildings and skylines that define them. It will encourage you to not only look up, but to think differently about our built environment and those who shape it.” —Stephen M. Ross, chairman and founder of The Related Companies
“In The World by Design, Gene Kohn captures the excitement and camaraderie of architecture as a team sport. The book takes us inside one of the world’s most significant architecture practices with a most congenial guide. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the business and culture of design.” —Frederick Steiner, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design
“Anyone who cares about the built environment should read The World By Design. Gene and his partners at KPF are defining the New York skyline with One Vanderbilt and this book provides fascinating insights into how they have built cities around the world.” —Marc Holliday, chairman and chief executive officer, SL Green Realty
About the Authors
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 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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