Renowned real estate entrepreneur Wolfgang Egger, who founded PATRIZIA AG over 35 years ago, has won the 2020 ULI European Leader Award. Rising star Hala El Akl, a director at PLP Architecture, was named the ULI European Talent Award winner in the ULI European Leadership Awards. The awards recognize industry leaders in Europe whose contributions to urban development and real estate, along with civic and social endeavors, exemplify the spirit and mission of ULI. The awards were presented as part of the 2020 ULI Europe Conference in Amsterdam.
Egger, who is a ULI full member, founded PATRIZIA AG in 1984 and also serves as CEO of the company, which today has more than 800 employees across Europe. He is also chairman of the management board of the PATRIZIA Group. Egger floated PATRIZIA on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in 2006, attracting the attention of major international shareholders. Now, the company serves more than 350 institutional investors with around €41 billion worth of assets under management.
François Trausch, the jury chairman of the ULI European Leadership Award, bestowed the senior leader award on Egger at a celebratory dinner at St. Olof’s, Amsterdam, on the opening night of the ULI Europe Conference on Monday, February 3. “Wolfgang really exemplifies the values of leadership and vision,” said Trausch, who is CEO of Allianz Real Estate. “Many people in real estate are entrepreneurial, but very few are able to move from an entrepreneurial idea or setup to a true organization. Wolfgang has been able to achieve this thanks to his focus on the people at his company and talent management.”
Egger’s passion is about building communities and sustainable futures because the real estate industry has such an enormous impact on everyone’s life. He strongly believes that the industry has the responsibility to add to society and contribute to the greater good. “Everyone at PATRIZIA deserves to share the trust that ULI has put in me,” said Egger upon receiving his award. “Besides feeling fortunate for being surrounded by inspiring people and great teams, I am most proud of the impact we have through the work of the PATRIZIA Children Foundation. The foundation has helped more than 200,000 children in need across the world to gain access to education and thus improve their chance to live a better life.”
The opening speech of the ULI European Leadership Awards Dinner was given by the chair of ULI Europe, Juergen Fenk, who is also a member of the executive board at SIGNA Holding GmbH. Fenk praised Egger’s achievements, saying: “He is one of the main leaders in the industry with his vision to grow but also in terms of his vision for sustainability, and throughout it all he has remained humble.”
For the first time, the ULI European Leadership Awards also celebrated a young talent, with the inaugural award going to Hala El Akl, a director at PLP Architecture and also chair of the ULI Europe Young Leaders Group. “Hala stood out for her drive and innovation,” said Trausch. “A lot of younger people contribute to ULI, but she has been truly exceptional in the way she has got involved—her leadership in linking art and real estate was a really good example of her active involvement.”
El Akl, a ULI Full member, has chaired the ULI U.K. Urban Art Forum since 2017 and coauthored a report titled Including Culture in Development – A Step by Step Guide, which was launched at London’s City Hall last year and aims to improve the creation and integration of high-quality public art and cultural infrastructure within development. Hala approaches her work in architecture and urban design with what we see as a unique combination of talent, intellect, and a passion for making a difference,” said cofounder of PLP Architecture, Lee Polisano.
El Akl is a highly accomplished architect and urbanist with over 10 years’ experience in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She has worked on a variety of iconic projects, including 90 Long Acre in London and the N+ Masterplan in China. She also helps drive innovation in the practice and is a founding member of PLP Labs, the research and strategy group at PLP. “Winning the ULI European Talent Award is very meaningful,” said El Akl. “It recognizes the last 10 years of work that focuses on improving the quality of life for people in the buildings that we design; it is also a great recognition from a community that I highly respect for its promotion of responsible and sustainable use of land.”
In addition to Trausch and Fenk, the ULI European Leadership Award Jury included leading ULI Europe members Clarissa Alfrink, Avison Young; Patricia Bandeira Vieira, Hines; Sigrid Duhamel, BNP Paribas REIM; Marnix Galle, Immobel; Karim Habra, Ivanhoe Cambridge; Anne Kavanagh, PATRIZIA AG; Barbara Knoflach; James Lai, CallionRTKL; Carola Lavén, Castellum; Scott Malkin, Value Retail; Georg Reutter, DG Hyp; Fatima Saez del Cano, Grosvenor; Jon Zehner, LaSalle Investment Management; and Lisette van Doorn, ULI Europe chief executive officer.
The jury evaluated around 20 nominations from the ULI Europe senior leadership for each of the awards on the basis of the following: vision and leadership; capability of driving innovation in real estate; history of sustainable business models/projects; contribution to the reputation of the industry; commitment to the community; and service as a role model for younger generations.
“The Urban Land Institute includes some incredible members and is recognized across the real estate industry,” said van Doorn. “We are delighted to celebrate the achievements of Wolfgang and Hala, who have both been remarkable in what they have contributed both to ULI as an organization but also to our sector more generally, and to communities worldwide.”