Having recently joined Abu Dhabi-based Kohn Perdersen Fox (KPF) architecture firm, Steven Miller reveals the firm’s expansion plans and how he intends to put his 46 years’ industry experience to good use
How does your new role differ to your experiences?
The role is very similar to the one I held at FX Fowle, but Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF) has a very wide reach globally so you can approach tasks from a different perspective. My responsibilities cover the Middle East and North Africa.
Have you had experience working overseas in the past?
I’ve worked overseas all of my life. Currently living in Dubai, I find myself on a plane once or twice a week. We have a Doha office and I interact closely with firms in India, as we have a lot of work in the country. Furthermore, we’re very active in Abu Dhabi, having designed Abu Dhabi Airport, which is being tendered in various stages.
The firm is reviewing Abu Dhabi airport tenders and if contractors have questions we are there to answer them”
You have worked closely with the public sector on a number of projects, is this your preference?
We generally try to work in the private sector, but in the UAE there is very little private work being tendered at present. The problem in the public sector is that they sometimes forget to pay on time, which tends to be an issue throughout the Middle East.
In Doha for example, the private sector is wonderful and pays on time, whereas the public sector can be difficult.
How is the Abu Dhabi airport project progressing?
There have been 11,000-plus design sheets drawn and the project has cost $6.5 billion. We’re in the process of preparing documents for a unique tender process in which the government is breaking the project down into smaller contracts.
The firm is reviewing Abu Dhabi airport tenders and if contractors have questions we are there to answer them. Everyone we have looked at so far has had a lot of airport experience. We offer our thoughts on the contractors and check the technical side of the tender bids.
Please tell us about some of the other projects you’re working on.
Another major project of ours is a mixed-use development in Al Bhateen, which is still in the design stage. I’ll be heading to New York soon too because we’re being considered for a new hotel project on Saadiyat Island. In fact, my speciality is in hotel design and urban planning, we’ve also been shortlisted for another project for National Holdings.
Have you identified many opportunities in Qatar on the back of the successful FIFA World Cup 2022 bid?
We’re already working on a number of big projects in Doha, including a mixed-use development in the West Bay Area towering 80 storeys high, the company’s just in the process of obtaining the final permit for this. KPF is also working on the International Bank of Doha project, on which enabling works have started. We expect to bring the contractor on board for this in mid-February. In addition, the firm has been shortlisted on a number of other projects for high-profile clients such as Qatari Diar, Qatar Petroleum and projects in Dohaland. We expect to see a lot of new projects coming up over the next few years.
What are KPF’s expansion plans?
The firm has not yet expanded into Saudi Arabia yet, but I’ve got contacts there and luckily a multiple entry visa so this could be our next step.
Steven Miller is an architect and urban planner with more than 48 years of experience in design, design management and construction administration for planning and architectural projects
He is also an experienced real estate investment planner and project manager.
Now a resident of the UAE, Miller has worked around the globe, including the MENA region, India, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Eastern Europe, among other countries.
Prior to joining KPF, he held the role of managing director, business development and contracts manager at FXFowle
Did you know?
Miller is a long-time fellow of the American Institute of Architects and is recognised for his historic preservation works. He is a past president and current board member of the AIA Continental Europe Chapter, in addition to other roles worldwide. He is also a founder of the AIA’s Middle East chapter, recently launched in the region