in the Public Realm
Cocktails & Conversations

November 15, 2013 Center for Architecture, New York City

The Pairing:
William Pedersen, Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects
Carol Willis, Skyscraper Museum

Cocktail designed by:
Toby Cecchini, Bartender + Author

William Pedersen, FAIA,Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects
View Kohn Pedersen Fox's projects

William Pedersen, FAIA, is the founding Design Partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), which he started with A. Eugene Kohn and Sheldon Fox in 1976. Fourteen years later, they became the youngest firm to receive the National AIA Firm Award for design excellence. Since the firm's inception, it has been Pedersen's intention to lead only a segment of the firm's designs, thereby allowing for the parallel development of other design partners and for his continued focus on each project he directs. This aspiration has led to stimulating competition within the KPF design community and has allowed the firm to expand in capacity and dimension while still maintaining design quality, particularly necessary since the advent of our global practice.

Of particular concern to Pedersen has been the development of what he calls the "fundamental building block of the modern city": the high-rise commercial office building. Throughout his career, he has systematically sought ways for buildings of this seemingly-mundane type to gesture and connect to other participants so that each does not stand mutely in isolation from its neighbors, but rather joins in an active architectural conversation with them. He regards his accomplishments in this area of architectural pursuit as his most substantial accomplishments. Presently, he is at work on Hudson Yards in New York where his philosophical intentions for commercial buildings are being given the ultimate test. During his career with KPF, Pedersen has received seven National Design Awards for work he has directed. Among them are a wide variety of building types: 333 Wacker Drive in Chicago; the Procter and Gamble Headquarters in Cincinnati; the DG Bank in Frankfurt, Germany; the World Bank in Washington, D.C.: the Gannett Headquarters in McLean, Virginia; the Baruch College in Manhattan, New York; and One Jackson Square in Manhattan, New York. In addition to numerous state and local AIA awards, he received recognition from the Council for Tall buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) for the Shanghai World Financial Center as the "Best Tall Building in the World" in 2009. In addition to his architectural work, Pedersen has designed a series of award-winning lighting fixtures for Ivalo and holds ten design patents for furniture. His most recent "Loop de Loop" series will be coming out this year.

Personal honors which Pedersen has received include the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1965, the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from the American Academy and the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the University of Minnesota's Alumni Achievement Award, the Gold Medal from the national architectural fraternity, Tau Sigma, the Lynn S. Beedle Lifetime Achievement Award from the CTBUH and the Medal of Honor from the AIA of New York. He was also recently elected as a member of the National Academy.

Carol Willis, Skyscraper Museum
More about the Skyscraper Museum

Carol Willis is the founder, director, and curator of The Skyscraper Museum. An architectural and urban historian, she has researched, taught, and written about the history of American city building. She is the author of Form Follows Finance: Skyscrapers and Skylines in New York and Chicago (Princeton Architectural Press, 1995: 2008), which received an AIA book award and was named "Best Book on North American Urbanism, 1995" by the Urban History Association. Critic Herbert Muschamp has praised Willis in The New York Times as "the brilliant and energetic woman who created the Skyscraper Museum in 1996 from nothing but her imagination, her passion for New York architecture, and her belief in the importance of history and the value of the public realm."

Willis is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Urban Studies at Columbia University where since 1989 she has taught in the program The Shape of Two Cities: New York and Paris in The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning. From 1979 to 1991 she taught courses on the history of architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York and for eleven summers conducted walking tours on the history of French architecture for Parsons in Paris.

Before establishing The Skyscraper Museum, Willis was guest curator for exhibits on the architects Raymond Hood and Hugh Ferriss. In conjunction with the exhibit Hugh Ferriss: Metropolis, she oversaw the facsimile reprint of the delineator's 1929 book The Metropolis of Tomorrow, contributing a historical essay on Ferriss and appendices (published by Princeton Architectural Press; reprinted in 1998). In addition to articles in books and scholarly journals, Willis is the editor for Building the Empire State, a book on the construction of New York's signature skyscraper, published by W.W. Norton in 1998. She has written introductions to numerous monographs and collections, including Skyscraper Rivals, New York Architecture, Manhattan Skyscrapers, and New York Deco, and has appeared in numerous national and international television documentaries and radio broadcasts, including programs for The History Channel, PBS, A & E. and BBC Television, NPR, and BBC World Service Radio.

As an undergraduate, Willis majored in Art History at Boston University, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1971. She did her graduate work in architectural history at Columbia University in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, receiving an M.A. in 1976 and M.Phil. in 1979. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards.

Toby Cecchini, Bartender & Author
Toby is a writer and bartender based in New York City. He has written on food, wine and spirits for GQ, Food and Wine, and The New York Times. His first book, Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life, was published in 2003. He is currently at work on his second book, a travelogue of spirits based on his travels for The New York Times' Living and travel magazines. He began bartending at the Odeon in 1987, where he is credited with creating the internationally recognized version of the Cosmopolitan cocktail in New York. He followed that with stints in several bars including Passersby, which he owned until 2008.

 THE DRINK & By Toby Cecchini

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 scant tsp. lemongrass juice
  • 2 strips of Bhudda's hand citron zest
  • 4 oz. prosecco

Combine first five ingredients and shake well over ice, then strain into a flute glass. Top with prosecco and garnish with a spear of lemongrass.