Nick at his retirement party on July 2.

Nick Dunn.

Nick at the groundbreaking ceremony for One Vanderbilt with the project team. Credit Ken Brown.

Nick on site at 520 Fifth Avenue.

/ News / People

KPF Managing Principal and Board Member Dominic (Nick) Dunn Retires

During his 36-year tenure at KPF, Nick played a key role in major projects and helped guide the firm through a period of sustained global expansion.

Nick managed some of the firm’s most complex projects around the world, including One Vanderbilt, the tallest office tower in Midtown Manhattan, connected directly to Grand Central Station, Terminal 5 at Changi Airport, and the recently opened, 7.5 million-square-foot Zayed International Airport Terminal A in Abu Dhabi. These transport facilities will accommodate over 50 and 80 million passengers a year, respectively.

Of his career at KPF, Nick shares, “I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling career than that which I had here at KPF. Working with the most talented and caring people in the business, on the most spectacular projects in the world to make it a better place one building at a time is more than any architect could wish for.”

KPF President James von Klemperer reflects on Nick’s tenure, “With a background in the humanities, Nick set an example as the consummate all-round architect, playing primary roles on some of KPF’s pioneering projects around the world. He also provided outstanding leadership in managing the operations of the firm, including a 7-year stint as the head of our London office, assembling teams, nurturing talent, and directing the assignments of a staff of over 650 people day in and day out. The hallmark of Nick’s internal management style was the understanding and compassion that he brought to every relationship. The caring that he showed to each one of his colleagues furthered the collaborative culture set by KPF founders and developed over time. As he moves on to focus more on family life and the pursuit of other interests, we wish him well and will strive to continue along the path that he has paved for us all.”

One Vanderbilt received a National Award by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), one of three projects Nick managed that have won the prestigious honor. One Jackson Square, a boutique residential building nestled in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC, were also recognized.

Over the years, Nick has overseen some of KPF’s most significant international projects including Plaza 66 in Shanghai and the Ventura Towers in Rio de Janeiro. His London projects included work of a variety of scales and types, from 52 Lime Street to the interiors for BlackRock’s headquarters. Back in New York, he led the management of the adaptive reuse of Hudson Commons, the major office development at 745 Seventh Avenue, and the passive house residence halls at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. Most recently, he led the remarkably thin mixed-use tower at 520 Fifth Avenue.

In his role driving broader agendas of the firm, Nick helped to pioneer KPF’s expansion into China and Brazil. Importantly, he led the firm’s London office from 2009 to 2014. During that time, he was responsible for strengthening KPF’s presence in the United Kingdom, Europe, India, and the Middle East. Most recently, he served on the KPF Board of Directors and played a critical role in co-running the global practice alongside President and Design Principal James von Klemperer. This included keeping the firm on course during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic. KPF Principal Lauren Schmidt has replaced Nick on the Board and has taken on operational responsibilities including staffing, resourcing, and mentorship after years of working closely together.

In the larger professional context, Nick has been an active member of the design community. He participated regularly in the Architecture Construction Engineering (ACE) Mentor Program and served on the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan civic organization that aims to achieve constructive change in the finances and services of New York City and New York State.

Throughout his career, Nick has been known by clients and colleagues, engineers and contractors, as a fair and judicious member of the community. His ever-present wry sense of humor, often laced with puns and amusingly obscure cultural references, helped him through many of the contentious meetings that come with large projects. For many years, Nick directed staffing matters within KPF, building teams, mentoring young architects, and preserving the caring family atmosphere that distinguishes the firm from many others in the field.