Acclaimed Architect Gene Kohn Named ULI Life Trustee
Read more to find out about his recognition.
As a follow-up to our first Q&A segment in last quarter’s newsletter, we’re featuring Ada Chan and Ron Silverman. Chan is co-chair of the Americas NEXT Leadership Steering Committee and Silverman serves as adviser. If you missed the first segment with co-chair Jed Gates and co-adviser Mary Ludgin, check it out here.
Ada Chan is a senior vice president at Cain International, a real estate investment firm with over $14 billion in assets under management and offices in London, New York City, Miami, and Beverly Hills, California. As a seasoned real estate professional with more than 20 years of industry experience, Chan is responsible for capitalization of the One Beverly Hills development, a 17.5-acre (7.1 ha) mixed-use urban resort that represents the unification of several properties, including the iconic Beverly Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. She holds a BS in civil engineering building science, a MS in civil-structural engineering, and an MBA, all from the University of Southern California (USC). She is a registered professional civil engineer in California. Chan is an active member of ULI at the Americas and district council levels, currently serving as co-chair of Americas NEXT, vice chair of the Urban Development Mixed Use Council (Silver flight), a member of the ULI Los Angeles Advisory Board, and co-chair of the Capital Markets Initiative Council. Chan enjoys playing classical piano in her spare time and in 2019 earned an associate diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto.
Ron Silverman is a senior partner of the law firm Cox, Castle & Nicholson, a 135-person firm specializing in and devoted to the real estate industry. This September 1, he will mark his 50th anniversary with the firm. Since 1988, Silverman has been actively involved with ULI. He has served as a ULI trustee, chair of the Audit Committee, chair of the Public/Private Partnership Council, a counselor to the District Councils program, and as a recent member of ULI’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council. Silverman currently serves at the national level as a member of the ULI Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) Executive Committee, as one of two senior advisers to ULI’s Young Leaders/NEXT initiative, and as a member of the Steering Committee of the Marketing/Communications Forum. Locally, he is an active member of ULI Los Angeles, including serving as a member of ULI LA’s Advisory Board and its Governance and Management committees, as co-chair of mission advancement, and as a senior adviser to the ULI LA NEXT initiative.
Q1. ULI: So many of us in real estate fall into the industry and, hence, commercial real estate (CRE) professional organizations. How did you get involved with ULI?
Ada Chan (AC): I joined ULI at Fall Meeting in 2005 when it was held in Los Angeles, just two months prior to graduating with my MBA degree from USC. My classmate, who was already in CRE, recommended ULI to me given its unparalleled industry network and my desire to switch careers from construction management to CRE finance and investments. Even though attending Fall Meeting was overwhelming at first, I was warmly welcomed into the organization. I didn’t know anyone, but then I met Nina and Claude Gruen at the Fall Meeting Women’s Reception, which they generously sponsored. For those who don’t know, the late Nina Gruen was ULI’s first female trustee. I vividly remember what Nina said to me at the reception: “Never say no to any opportunity that ULI presents to you. Always say yes!”
And the rest is history! I’ve been a ULI member for almost two decades and have shared with new and prospective members that I’m a “child of ULI” because I took Nina’s words to heart. I grew my ULI involvement in lockstep with my career progression and gained invaluable insights and friendships.
Ron Silverman (RS): Over 30 years ago, at the beginning of my real estate career, I identified ULI as being the organization whose mission and members most strongly resonated with Cox, Castle & Nicholson’s values and culture. And I have never looked back. From day one, I have treasured every moment of my involvement with ULI, both nationally and locally.
Q2. ULI: What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on over your career in real estate?
AC: I recently joined Cain International, where I will be focused on the capitalization of the One Beverly Hills development, a 17.5-acre [7.1 ha] mixed-use urban resort which represents the unification of several properties, including the iconic Beverly Hilton and Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. With well-being and sustainability at the forefront of its master plan, One Beverly Hills will be home to over eight acres [3.2 ha] of botanical gardens featuring over two miles [3.2 km] of walking paths. The site is currently one of the largest and most environmentally advanced private real estate development projects underway in the U.S., designed to exceed California’s own ambitious sustainability goals.
It’s harder to pinpoint a specific prior project as compared to my current role. Every time I drive by the Greater Los Angeles buildings I have worked on as an engineer/construction manager or financed, it reminds me of the highs and lows of my career. In the lessons learned through failures, resilience is the one driving force for me in eventually finding success. Especially for my past construction and development projects, it is rewarding to see that these buildings have become L.A. landmarks that communities have used and enjoyed for decades.
RS: There have been so many. Certainly, one of the most gratifying has been negotiating a development agreement in 1993 between Sony Pictures Entertainment and the city of Culver City, California. That agreement ensured that Culver City’s land use rules and regulations would be locked in place so that Sony would have complete certainty about the city’s development standards for building out its studio. That development agreement has led to an invaluable and deeply gratifying relationship between the city and Sony, and it has been a pleasure to be a part of that collaborative process.
Q3. ULI: What are you most excited about in regard to the future of the industry?
AC: I’m most excited about the increased access to capital to diverse emerging managers and developers who bring unique perspectives to our communities, resulting in a much more inclusive real estate industry. Additionally, my roots as an engineer always make me intrigued by new technologies being implemented into real estate via innovative building materials, driverless car technology, clean energy to combat climate change, fintech [financial technology], and proptech [property technology].
RS: The real estate industry touches our world below the surface, at ground level and above the ground, and is touched by passionate and creative developers, debt and equity resources, municipalities, states, federal agencies, and highly creative and technical professionals. What a pleasure and an honor it is to be able to serve and work collaboratively with that community, whatever the future may bring.
Q4. ULI: What are you currently reading/watching?
AC: I’m reading lots of music on weekends these days. Since accomplishing what turned out to be a lifelong goal in 2019 by earning an associate diploma in piano performance of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, I’m now learning the Schumann “A Minor Piano Concerto” and hope to perform this at future amateur piano competitions and music festivals. I also plan to hold private piano recitals, fundraising for charities I care about, including City of Hope and the ULI Foundation.
RS: I just watched Top Gun: Maverick with my sweetheart on IMAX and absolutely loved it, and we cannot wait for the third season of Ted Lasso! I also treasure any moment that I can find to read!