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KPF president Paul Katz dies

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KPF president and managing principal Paul Katz has died aged 57 following a short battle with cancer

The architect died on Friday (21 November) of septic shock after a ‘brief but valiant battle’ with the disease.

His illness – diagnosed less than four weeks ago – had been kept secret from employees because he hoped he would be cured.

Only a handful of family members and colleagues knew about his deteriorating condition according to a statement from Gene Kohn – the chair of the New York-headquartered practice.

He said: ‘In a selfless way, he did not want to disturb others in the process.’

Born in Cape Town in 1957, Katz joined KPF aged 27 and quickly progressed through the ranks as a specialist in urban density and high-rise structures.

Kohn said: ‘In his 57 years, Paul accomplished so much. With his high standards and penetrating intellect he contributed to the fundamental value of many of our projects, as well as crafting the structure of our global firm.

‘Over the past decades, he trained and mentored many younger architects at KPF, many of whom have themselves become leaders in our field.’

Mike Hussey of developer Almacantar – which worked with KPF on an unsuccessful bid to transform Battersea Power Station into a new home for Chelsea Football Club – paid tribute to the late architect on Twitter.

He said: ‘Deeply saddened to hear of the premature death of Paul Katz. A gentleman who never had to say much to be heard.’

Peter Murray of New London Architecture said: ‘Paul will be greatly missed for his intellect, enthusiasm, energy, generosity and his great love of cities. He worked around the world but travelled so relentlessly that he seemed like a local in London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo as well, of course, as New York.

‘He brought great experience and understanding to the debate about London’s tall buildings - believing in the benefits they brought but conscious of their impact to the wider city.’

Leanne Tritton of ING Media said: ‘Paul was seemingly invincible so his passing is a shock. I was always staggered by his capacity for work and his international schedule where time zones were meaningless. Whenever he called I would have to ask “where are you?”’

She continued: ‘Paul was intensely loyal to KPF and particularly chairman, Gene Kohn. He could be tough and single minded but always hugely entertaining. I am so sad that he has gone’.

Key forthcoming projects designed by Katz included the 52 Lime Street tower in the City of London and New York’s 560,000m2 Hudson Yards redevelopment.

Major completed schemes include Tokyo’s 4.5 hectare Roppongi Hills district, the 492 metre-tall Shanghai World Financial Center and Hong Kong’s 118-storey International Commerce Centre.

Katz studied architecture in Cape Town and held degrees from both Princeton University and the Israel Institute of Technology.

Jamie von Klemperer – who studied with Katz at Princeton – will take over as president of the 600-strong practice which has offices in New York, London, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seoul and Abu Dhabi.

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