This year, the annual Michael I. and Patricia M. Sovern Lecture on Design honors Architect James Polshek.
James Stewart Polshek FAIA, designer, public advocate and educator, is in the sixth decade of his architectural career. In all three of these areas he has provided an inspirational template for generations of architects and fostered an environment where design excellence, collaboration and rigorous research work in concert to produce lasting contributions to the built environment. In 1963 he founded James Stewart Polshek Architect, which ultimately became the internationally recognized Polshek Partnership. Following his retirement in 2005, the firm transitioned in 2010 to Ennead Architects. Mr. Polshek’s reputation was initially established in 1963-1965 by his design of two research laboratory complexes in Japan. Over the past fifty years, he and the firm have completed numerous transformative projects, including: National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center, Suitland, Maryland; Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe, New Mexico; The New York Times Printing Plant, New York; the restoration and expansion of Carnegie Hall, New York; Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, New York; the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center, Little Rock, Arkansas; the Newseum, Washington, D.C. and the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Polshek served as Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from 1972 to 1987. During his tenure, he was appointed Special Advisor to the President of Columbia for Planning and Design at the University and created the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture. In 1998, he co-founded the nonprofit group Architects, Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility. Since 2006, Mr. Polshek has been a member of the New York City Public Design Commission.
Mr. Polshek received his Master of Architecture degree from Yale University’s Graduate School of Architecture in 1955 and spent the 1956-57 academic year at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen as a Fulbright Fellow. Mr. Polshek has been awarded Honorary Degrees from Pratt Institute, the New School University Parsons School of Design and New Jersey Institute of Technology. In 2002, he was honored with the Municipal Art Society’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2006, Mr. Polshek was the William Bernoudy Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. In 2009, he received the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s Augustus Graham Medal for excellence in architecture. In 2018, he was chosen to receive the AIA Gold Medal, the Institute’s highest honor.
Free and open to students, staff, faculty and the general public. Reservations are encouraged. There will be a reception immediately following the lecture. Presented in association with Archtober, Architecture and Design Month in New York City, October 2018.