Eric Robert Kuhne (September 2, 1951 – July 25, 2016) was an American-born British architect based in London. With major projects around the world, Kuhne's assignments included the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent completed in 1999, the largest shopping mall in Europe, and the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction in Northern Ireland which opened to the public in 2012.
Kuhne was born in San Antonio, Texas of Swiss, Czech, and Swedish heritage and grew up in the Air Force as a son to Major Robert David Kuhne and Thelma Parsons Kuhne. He moved with his sister (Dawn Elyse) and brother (Wes Parsons) from one Air Force base to another, living in San Antonio, Houston, Biloxi, Tampa, Tucson, Chicago, and El Paso, before his father retired in 1962. The family then moved to New Haven, Indiana and into civilian life.
During his childhood, his father taught him perspective drawing when he was seven years old. His parents introduced him to architecture and civil engineering through books in their library. His early employment was with a landscape architect in Fort Wayne, Indiana before beginning work as an assistant to Dr Louis G. Petro, a Civil Engineer in Fort Wayne. With Louis G Petro & Associates, between the ages of 14 and 16, he learned drafting, project management, and the fundamentals to both architecture and engineering. He worked for Cole Matson & Matott Architects in Fort Wayne in his final year of high school. Graduating from New Haven High School in 1969, he entered William Marsh Rice University in the School of Architecture. There, he completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree with majors in both Art and Architecture in 1973. Returning to Indiana, he began work for Louis Petro, who was then the head of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, and within three months he was selected as the Midtown Architect for Mayor Ivan Lebamoff in Fort Wayne. During this time, he completed a new master plan for downtown Fort Wayne. In addition, he restored the farmer's market back to West Berry Street, designed the Courtyards Project (then called the "Alley Project") at Wayne and Calhoun Streets, and developed the initial plans for Citilights State Park (eventually to become Headwaters Park).
While in Fort Wayne, Kuhne was also appointed to the Board of the Public Transportation Corporation by Mayor Lebamoff. He was appointed to the Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District by the Governor of the State of Indiana.
Traveling in Europe in 1974 under the William Ward Watkin Traveling Fellowship, awarded from the Rice University School of Architecture in 1973, he traveled throughout Europe. Kuhne left Fort Wayne in 1981 to work for the famed post-modernist architect, Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey. In the autumn of 1981 Kuhne entered Princeton's Graduate School of Architecture and graduated in 1983 with a Masters of Architecture degree. For his work there, he won the Henry Adams Medal from the American Institute of Architects.
Kuhne died suddenly in London on July 25, 2016 from a heart attack, aged 64 and leaves behind his beloved wife, Pamela.
Kuhne conceived his later company CivicArts in 1975 and as five divisions of Research (Edgewater Mail & Breeze), Concept Design (Citilights), Professional Architectural Services (Eric R Kuhne & Associates), Industrial Design & Manufacturing (Tesserax Designs), and Investment (Spondulix Development).
While at Princeton, in 1981 he opened Eric R Kuhne & Associates in his apartment on Nassau Street overlooking the entrance to Princeton University. There he hired several colleagues at the School of Architecture and entered design competitions. He won the Columbus Carscape Competition and three Progressive Architecture Design Awards for Courtyards, Headwaters Park, and River Walk.
The office was relocated to New York City in 1985 at 50 Walker Street where it remained until 2005 when it was centred in London. All work has been done out of the London Office which was opened in 1994.
In 1990, Kuhne visited his sister's family in Sydney, Australia and gave a talk at the University of Sydney School of Architecture entitled "Civic Vs Public". There he met Malcolm Latham who had just moved from being Director of the National Capital Planning Authority in Canberra to Director of Special Projects in Lend Lease Corporation. Through Latham, he was introduced to Stuart Hornery, Chairman of the Board of Lend Lease.
Lend Lease engaged Kuhne's office to work on Darling Park, Australia's largest mixed-use waterfront development in Sydney. There many of the advanced ideas of cities and architecture were incubated. Darling Park continues to be one of the most successful waterfront developments in the southern hemisphere. It includes Cockle Bay Wharf and the Waratah Gardens as part of its completed design of 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 m2).
After living in Sydney, Kuhne was asked in 1994 to move to England to take over the design of Bluewater Park, the largest retail/lesiure destination in Europe. His office led a design and engineering team for Lend Lease's Project Management team to produce Bluewater as nearly 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of the finest retail/leisure destination in Europe.
Opening an office in London, Kuhne began expanding the concentration of researchers, designers, and planners in the United Kingdom. With the addition of BurJuman Gardens Shopping Centrer in Dubai in 1999, Kuhne's firm began working globally to create landmark destinations around the world. Kuhne now lectures all over the world about his research, using his projects to illustrate advanced ideas in art, architecture, landscape, urban and industrial design. His talks included "Civic Vs Public", "Stillife Vs Wildlife", "The Art of the Gift", "Marketplace of Ideas", "Skyscrapers vs Starcatchers", "Ornamental Cities" and "Five Cities For The Future". These talks all explored restoring the quality of story-telling to architecture, gardens and cities.
His design philosophy, which he labels "Marketplace of Ideas" is to conceive "great" civic spaces that "restore the storytelling quality of architecture." He states, "cities have always been marketplaces for commodities, goods, services and faiths" but that "none of these truly reveres the power of civic life." He argued that retail trade "can bring back the pageantry of civic life to cities and towns." 
Kuhne's notable large scale retail-based projects included Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney, Australia, the huge Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, and the Titanic Quarter redevelopment in Belfast. His other projects include:
- Deanna Krinn, "Noted Architect designs beer garden: Louis Petro has worked, taught around the US, The News-Sentinel, November 6, 2007. Retrieved on September 7, 2008.
- Geoff Paddoc, Headwaters Park Mission Statement (park history), Headwaters Park Alliance, January 2015
- The Company Without Limits (Bluewater)
- Quoted by Save Griffintown Blog, Projet Griffintown: New Design, New Funding", Montreal. Retrieved on September 7, 2008.
- Various press clippings
- Various press clippings
- Titanic Quarter
- Donal McCann photographs
- Building.co.uk Article
- Epicentre Las Vegas
- al Wadi Facebook page
- Chadstone project
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