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Albert Kahn Associates Makes History by Appointing President Kimberly Montague as First Female CEO of Firm

Updated: Jun 4

Montague Succeeds Alan Cobb Upon His Retirement  

After Esteemed 48-Year Career  




DETROIT – In a field that is largely led by males in executive leadership roles, Albert Kahn Associates is taking great strides to change that by appointing its first female CEO to oversee the iconic architectural, engineering, planning, design, and management firm. Montague becomes only the 12th CEO in the firm’s nearly 130-year history and retains her title as President, as well. 

 

“Kim is without a doubt the best person to assume the leadership role at Albert Kahn Associates,” said COO Johannes Palm.  “She’s proven herself to be an exceptional architect, and her leadership is inspiring.  She is truly passionate about the people with whom she works, and she knows how to motivate them to reach new levels of excellence.”  

 

“This is an overwhelming honor,’ said Montague. “The privilege of leading Albert Kahn Associates – and of being the first woman to have that distinction – is simultaneously humbling and thrilling.  Mr. Kahn was an industry icon, and I am eager and determined to carry on his legacy of hard work, innovation, people-focused principles, and visionary practices.  

 

A graduate of the University of Michigan – Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Montague began her career in healthcare design at Albert Kahn Associates and further ignited her career passion globally while working as architect for Planetree, the international healthcare consulting firm. Her contributions there included over 400 design and organizational assessments which served nearly two million patients, caregivers, and families at health systems across the United States, The Netherlands, Brazil, and Japan.  

 

Her unwavering dedication to prioritizing patient-centered design was borne out of her own experience watching her mother struggle with cancer in the hospital. 


“I vividly remember countless hours spent at the cancer center with my mom, examining each detail of that environment.  Devoid of privacy and lacking positive distractions, her last moments were spent amidst blaring monitors, cold tile floors, and overhead fluorescent lighting,” said Montague.  “This moment set my career passion in motion.” 

 

Today, Montague has earned a well-deserved reputation among her peers for domestic and international design industry leadership covering numerous fields. In a career that spans over 30 years and includes prior stints at Albert Kahn Associates and Herman Miller, she is known for her dedication to research, design-thinking, industry advocacy, and her numerous presentations and writings.  Montague’s list of accomplishments include: 

 

  • AIA Detroit 2022 Gold Medal Recipient 

  • Recognition as one of the “25 Most Influential People in Healthcare Design” 

  • Educating over 15,000 architects and designers through AIA continuing education sessions 

  • Launching “Women in Healthcare - Michigan” with a national membership of 2500 professionals 

  • Former board member of the “AIA Academy of Architecture for Health” 

  • AIA Detroit board member for eight consecutive years, serving as chapter president, vice-president, treasurer, and Michigan director. 

  • Current Trustee for Michigan Architectural Foundation 

 

Retiring CEO Cobb, who spent the last ten years as President/CEO and Chairman of the Board, retains the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus and Principal.  He also has his own personal take on his colleague’s ground-breaking promotion. 

 

“It’s impossible not to see Kim’s similarity to Albert Kahn in her approach,” he said.  “Mr. Kahn was a true visionary.  He revolutionized many different building types like automotive industrial, higher education, and healthcare through the invention of a “Universal Space” infinitely flexible, along with advancing material technologies. But he was always holistic and people-oriented in his work. That’s Kim to a ‘T.’ I’m certain Mr. Kahn would be overjoyed by this announcement.”  

 

As Cobb retires, he reflects on a 48-year career in architecture – with 47 of them spent at Albert Kahn Associates.  “I always believed in producing healthful, productive, efficient environments in which to live, work, and play.  Albert Kahn Associates’ client base afforded me the opportunity to achieve great things and advance the company to the next generation.” 

 

During his tenure, Cobb created hundreds of projects, including many that touch the lives of people in Michigan every day, including Lear Corporation’s Corporate Campus, the Detroit Zoological Society’s “Polk Penguin Conservation Center,” Delta Dental of Michigan’s Corporate Office, Master Plan and Data Center, the Theater Master Plan for Detroit Opera House, Gleaners Community Food Bank’s Headquarters Complex and “Storehouse of Hope Food Pantry,” numerous projects for University of Michigan Health Systems including its Medical Campus Master Plan, and Huntington Place Conference and Exhibition Center for the Detroit Regional Convention Facility Authority. He is also known for still more projects throughout the United States and around the globe. 

 

Board Chair Montague has great admiration for her esteemed colleague.  “Alan dedicated his career to Albert Kahn Associates and to creating the kinds of sustainable facilities and environments for which we are known.  His vision, guidance, and innovation spanned five decades of leadership here, and everything he did, he did with enormous talent, skill, grace, and respect for his colleagues.  We owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude and our enduring thanks. He truly embodies Albert Kahn’s purpose:  Improving Life Through Design.” 

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