James Polshek bigraphy, stories - American architect

James Polshek : biography

1930 -

James Stewart Polshek (born 1930, Akron, Ohio) is an American architect based in New York City. He is the founder of Polshek Partnership, the firm at which he was Principal Design Partner for more than four decades. He is currently Design Counsel to the legacy firm Ennead Architects as well as actively engaged as design lead on multiple projects.

Education & background

Polshek enrolled in premed at Case Western Reserve University's Adelbert College 1947, with thoughts of becoming a psychiatrist. He struggled with school and began taking a variety of courses, including a course in the history of modern architecture. After deciding to study architecture he enrolled at Yale University, and graduated in 1955 with a Master of Architecture degree.Ringel, Susan: , CWRU Magazine (2002) He was also a Fulbright/Hayes fellow in Denmark and received a number of grants from the Graham Foundation.

After he became dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in 1972, Western Reserve University granted his bachelor of science degree in 1973, forgiving the 8 credits he was short.

Professional career

Polshek worked for I.M. Pei prior to starting his own firm, James Stewart Polshek Architect, in 1963. He is currently retired and maintains the title of Design Counsel to Ennead Architects.

He served as the dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation from 1972 to 1987.

Polshek is unusual among top-tier architects for taking the position that architecture is more craft than fine art, and that architects have some measure of social responsibility.

Awards and honors

Polshek received the Gold Medal award from the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects in 1986. 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.

He has received honorary degrees from Pratt Institute (1995), the New School University Parsons School of Design (1995) and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (2002).

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