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The 1,614-foot Shanghai World Financial Center—the world’s tallest mixed-use urban development project—is a fitting representation of the man who designed it. Since graduating from the U of M in 1961, Bill Pedersen has led a soaring architectural career that also includes 333 Wacker Drive in Chicago (1984), the Procter & Gamble World Headquarters in Cincinnati (1987), the World Bank in Washington D.C. (1998), Gannett/USA Today Headquarters in Virginia (2005), and now the U’s new riverfront Science Teaching and Student Services building. He is a principal design partner at New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox, which he co-founded in 1976.
A six-time National Honor Award winner from the American Institute of Architects, Pedersen also has stayed connected to his alma mater: by funding a fellowship and serving as a U of M Foundation Trustee. Why has he chosen to give back? “The older you get, the more you realize how important that initial start really was,” he says.
Architecture was a family affair for Pedersen. “Both my grandfather and my father were involved in construction. My father studied architectural engineering here at the University,” he recalls. “I would go to building sites when I was a kid with my parents and with my grandfather, and we built our own home. But the truth of it is that I really came to the University to play hockey.”
Pedersen played on some memorable Gopher hockey teams that featured legends John Mariucci and Herb Brooks. He managed to juggle hockey and his studies until his sophomore year, when he was moved up to the varsity squad. “We had an architecture project due, and I had to stay up four nights to finish the thing,” he explains. “Then we played Michigan Tech, and I had a couple just disastrous shifts, and coach John Mariucci, when I came off the ice, said, ‘Pedersen, take a rest!’ And really, I’ve been resting ever since. That was pretty much the end of my hockey career.”
Learn more about Bill Pedersen at the Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates web site