Gift Will Put Undergraduates on Path to Success

Young Woo (B. Arch. ’79) has established a reputation as one of the most innovative and enterprising real-estate developers of our time. As founder and principal of Youngwoo & Associates, his projects include the Sky Garage condos, the Chelsea Arts Tower, and the current transformation of Pier 57 into an emotional retail, culinary, and cultural hub. A native of Korea, Woo credits his Pratt education with instilling in him the creativity that has helped make him the success he is today. “In my business, all of our projects focus on bold thinking,” he says.

“At Pratt, our instructors constantly challenged us to create something different. I use what I learned then all the time.”

To ensure that other talented young men and women have the opportunity to follow in his footsteps, Woo established the Jae Kwan Woo Scholarship to provide much-needed financial assistance to undergraduates across Pratt Institute. The award, named in honor of Woo’s late father, will also encourage students to persevere—a lesson that Jae Kwan Woo consistently demonstrated, particularly throughout his 20-year quest to immigrate to the United States, which took him from Seoul, Korea, to Paraguay and Argentina, before he arrived in North America.

In addition to honoring his father’s memory with a scholarship, Woo, who served as a Pratt Trustee from 2006 to 2012, has made contributions to dedicate spaces in the Pratt School of Architecture’s Higgins Hall for mentors who have helped and influenced him. In 2008, he created the Na Ok Woo Conference Room in honor of his late sister. Two years earlier, he established the Choong Seun Oh Classroom in memory of the good friend whose generosity in the early 1990s turned Woo’s business around. “He called one day and said he’d dreamt that I needed help, and he gave me two blank checks. I didn’t ask for or expect it.” Inscribed with the words “Dream Big,” the plaque on the Choong Seun Oh Classroom even inspired a recent Pratt architecture graduate and his family to establish the Dream Big Scholarship to help future architecture students realize their own professional dreams.

“I am delighted to have set an example for others,” says Woo. “I hope my most recent gift will prove equally inspiring—both to the students who receive the award and to my fellow alumni who owe so much to their Pratt education.”