As the great American Birthday Party got under way and a fleet of tall ships sailed up the Hudson River, three architects met for lunch at the Rye Hilton in Westchester to outline the goals for the firm they were about to start. A. Eugene Kohn, William Pedersen and Sheldon Fox signed their own declaration of intent and shook hands. Despite the fact that they were launching the practice in the depths of a major recession the three were confident they could make it work.
The roots of the association went back to the days when Shelley and Gene studied together at the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, they both went off to the Korean War: Shelley to the Army and Gene to the Navy, where he served on active duty for three years before taking up a place at graduate school at Penn where he studied under Louis Kahn, Romaldo Giurgola, and Robert Venturi.