1976 Vincent Kling
Vincent Kling (1916-2013) was born and raised in East Orange, NJ. The son of a builder, Kling worked for his father’s construction firm in the summer during high school. He began his architectural training at Columbia University and earned his tuition through a variety of jobs during the lean years of the Depression when his father had little work. Kling was an outstanding student at Columbia, winning numerous prizes and completing a B.Arch. in 1940. This degree was followed by an M.Arch. from M.I.T. in 1941. Kling enlisted in the U.S. Navy after the attack at Pearl Harbor, and served as a pilot in the Atlantic fleet naval air force until the close of the war. Flying remained one of Kling’s life-long interests: he was a licensed commercial pilot into the 1980s.
After the war, Kling returned to New York, where he entered the office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill as a designer. The corporate organization of the growing firm undoubtedly served as the model for the practice Kling would later build in Philadelphia. He left Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1946 to establish his own office.
As SOM also did, Kling developed his firm into a group of studios, each headed by an architect supervising a team of designers and draftsmen. This highly organized and efficient system was a key element in the successful completion of a prodigious number of projects, many on a large scale, in the Philadelphia region and beyond. One of the earliest of these was the creation of Penn Center in Philadelphia in the 1950s.
Kling became a member of the national AIA in 1948, and was named a fellow in 1960. He served on many AIA committees and received national AIA honor awards four times. The Philadelphia Chapter bestowed 11 awards on the work of the office between 1949 and 1980. In addition to these honors, he was awarded the Samuel F. B. Morse Medal by the National Academy of Design twice. He served on the Philadelphia Art Commission and was a trustee of Columbia University in 1965-1971, among other involvements. Kling retired from practice in 1987.