Denis Kuhn, FAIA, Noted Preservationist, Dies at 65

May 21, 2007

By Tony Illia

Photo: Courtesy Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects

Denis G. Kuhn, FAIA, a respected preservationist architect, passed away on May 10. He suffered a heart attack while touring a project site in the Dominican Republic. He was 65 years old.

Kuhn, a principal partner in Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects (EE&K), based in New York City, practiced architecture for more than 35 years. He specialized in restoring abandoned historic buildings, including the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, an elegant Beaux-Arts structure in Manhattan designed by Cass Gilbert. The refurbished building reopened as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian in 1994.

“It would be difficult to walk the streets of Manhattan without seeing one of the classic buildings Denis restored or converted for reuse,” observes Stanton Eckstut, Kuhn’s partner and long-time friend. “Many of New York’s architectural treasures would not have survived had it not been for Denis’ vision and persistence.”

Kuhn’s other projects included transforming the former New York Police Department headquarters into apartments and non-profit office space, and restoring The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Equitable Building, and the Astor Library, among others. Outside New York City, he refurbished Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, adding a new wing in the late-1990s to house Science City, a children’s interactive science museum and entertainment complex.

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“He showed us how to keep cities alive, and how to make good neighbors of historic and modern,” says James Greenberg, managing principal of EE&K. “His goal was to keep his projects relevant and vital, maintaining the old while accommodating the new.”

Denis Glen Kuhn graduated from Pratt Institute in Manhattan in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He started at Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Whitelaw in 1979 as an associate and became a senior associate in 1984. The company added his name to its title in 1997. Kuhn was made a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1993. He received several design awards, including the U.S. General Service Administration’s Design Award for Excellence in Design for the U.S. Custom House. He is survived by his wife, Gudrun, sons Christopher and Daniel, daughter Rebekka, his mother, and four grandchildren.

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