Born in Jamaica, Karl Thorne, FAIA, received a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the University of Illinois in 1969 and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1970 where he studied under Louis Kahn. While a graduate student, he had a teaching fellowship and taught fourth year design.
At the University of Illinois Karl served as Treasurer (1967 & 1968) and President in 1969 of Gargoyle Society, the Architecture Honor Society. He was the recipient of the following awards: Small town development, Williamsville, Illinois, 1967 (First Prize, Third Year)
Bradley & Bradley Award, best project in fifth year, 1969
Edward L. Ryerson Traveling Fellowship to Europe, 1971
Karl’s early professional experience included two years in Jamaica as a draftsman with Wilson Chong, and Illinois Graduate, and two years in New York City with the office of Alfred Easton Poor, now Swanke Hayden Connell, until 1965. After completing graduate school in 1970, Karl moved to New Haven Connecticut, where he worked for the firms of Carlin, Pozzi & Associates, and Roth & Moore. In 1972, he went back to Jamaica as the Senior Architect / Planner of the Urban Development Corporation of Jamaica. He later reunited with Wilson Chong forming the Partnership of Wilson Chong, Karl Thorne & Associates, architects for the Post & Telegraph Headquarters of Jamaica. With the political upheaval in Jamaica, Karl returned to the US in 1977 where he worked for a year with Giller & Giller in Miami Beach.
Currently, Karl Thorne is a Professor of Architecture in the University of Florida’s School of Architecture where he has been on the faculty since 1978. He is also President of Karl Thorne Associates, Inc. Architects / Planners which he established in 1980. His diverse practice focuses primarily on educational architecture and includes the design of such projects as the George C. Kirkpatrick, Jr., Criminal Justice Training Center at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and the Frederick G. Humphries Science and Research Center at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. His firm designed the new School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, and a museum addition to the historic Carnegie Library at Florida A&M University, both now under construction. When completed, this museum will house the largest collection of African-American artifacts and memorabilia in the southeast. The firm has been the recipient of numerous design awards. These include the 1988 Excellence in Architecture Award from the North Florida Chapter of the AIA for the PHEO Medical Center in Jacksonville Florida, the 1991 Excellence in Architecture Award from the National Organization of Minority Architects for the Coleman Library Addition and Renovation at Florida A&M University, and most recently a 2002 AIA Florida Unbuilt Design Award for The Conservancy: A Conservation Community Development. His work was exhibited in the 1993 Design Diaspora: Black Architects & International Architecture at the Chicago Athenaeum.
National Organization of Minority Architects; National Treasurer, 1988 – 1990, South Region Vice-President, 1990 - 1992;
The American Institute of Architects; Florida North Chapter, Vice-President 1987; Florida North Chapter, President, 1988 ; Florida Association, Vice President, 1992-1994; Florida Association Design Jury Member for Excellence in Architecture Awards, Gulf Coast Chapter 1990; AIA Puerto Rico 1995; AIA Tampa Bay 1996; AIA National Committees: Minority Resources Committee, 1990-1994, President’s Task Force on Diversity, 1992 – 1993, NAAB Accreditation Team Member, 1991 – 1994
Jamaican Institute of Architects, Jury Chair for Governor General Awards, 1989, European Community, Caribbean Student Housing Competition Chair, 1990
Mr. Thorne served as a member of the Florida Building Commission from 1996-2004. This commission was established by the governor to create the first statewide Building Code which was implemented in 2001. He was Chairman of the Special Occupancy and the Code Administration Technical Advisory Committees. In 1998 he was the recipient of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects “Anthony Pullana Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession”. In 1998 he was also elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.