Jo Coenen (Heerlen, 1949) graduated in architecture & urban planning from the department of architecture at Eindhoven University of Technology in 1975. Following his studies, he worked until 1979 as a research assistant at the same university and established important professional relationships Europe-wide with Prof O.M. Ungers in Cologne, Prof Rob Krier in Vienna, Prof Luigi Snozzi who was then a Professor at the EPFL Lausanne, and Prof James Stirling at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, among others. In 1979, before starting his own practice in Eindhoven in 1980, he worked on the new building of the Faculty of Letters in Amsterdam under Prof Aldo van Eyck and architect Theo Bosch. After 10 years, he moved his operation to Maastricht to work on the Céramique master plan. After another 10 years, he opened a branch in Berlin to design the residence of the Dutch ambassador and to work on the Gendarmenmarkt project. This was followed by other studios in Luxembourg (2002), Amsterdam (2002), Milan (2007) and finally Bern (2012).
From 2000 to 2004, Coenen was Chief Government Architect of the Netherlands. He implemented the new building and restoration of the ‘10 Big Projects’ for government buildings, projects such as the building for Cultural Landscape and Built Heritage (RACM) in Amersfoort, the office building of the Department of Waterways and Public Works (RWS) in Utrecht and the transformation of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Since the start of his academic career, Coenen has taught at various (inter)national colleges and universities (Aachen, Karlsruhe, Lausanne, Milan and Delft). In 1987, he was appointed Ordentlicher Professor für Gebaüdelehre und Entwerfen at Karlsruhe University of Technology, where he has been an Honorary Professor since 1995. In 2001, in the Netherlands, he was appointed Professor of Public Building in the Department of Architecture at Delft University of Technology. In 2006 he established the MIT® Research Centre for Modification, Intervention and Transformation at the same university, assigning great significance to ‘the art of blending’ past and present and putting the emphasis on design. Since 2009, he has held the professorship of Architecture & Transformation at Maastricht University.
Coenen has been frequently invited to exhibit his work at various Biennials and Triennials such as the Venice Biennial (1980), the Milan Triennial (1995) and the São Paulo Biennial (1997). In addition, he has taken part in many international workshops, symposia and congresses and was invited to lecture at the RIBA in London (Concepts for the living city), at the Getty Center Santa Monica (Building in old context) and to the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de la Comunidad en Valencia (Experiencias en edificios públicos). Coenen has sat on various national and international juries, including that of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in Sydney. He was recently on the jury of the Neubau der Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin.
He has won various awards and prestigious prizes for architecture, including the Dutch BNA-Kubus for his entire oeuvre (1995), the Dutch Building Award for the 'Glaspaleis' (Glass Palace) in Heerlen (2005 in collaboration with W. Arets), the BNA ‘Best Building of the Year Award’ for his Vesteda Tower in Eindhoven (2007), the ‘International Architecture Award’ for the Public Library in Amsterdam (2008), the ‘WAN Civic Building of the Year’ prize for the Public Library in Amsterdam (2009), the ‘International Architecture Award’ for the Mosae Forum project in Maastricht (2010) and an award for participation and planning for the IBA Hamburg (2013).
From 2013 to 2020 Jo Coenen is curator of IBA Parkstad, a laboratory for innovative projects for the development of the Parkstad region in the south of the Netherlands.
In 2014 Coenen received the ‘Royal honour of Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion’ for his vital contributions to the field of architecture and urban design.