Walking down Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, James Polshek passes what he calls “one of my greatest disappointments” (an entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that was built without a planned 50-foot tower) on the way to what he considers one of his greatest successes: the curved, glass-walled entrance to the Brooklyn Museum, which the firm, then known as Polshek Partnership Architects, completed in 2004. Polshek is so pleased that he stops to take an iPhone photo of the point at which the original McKim, Mead & White building and his cascading, translucent addition meet.
Polshek’s new book, Build, Memory (The Monacelli Press) is a similar journey, with stops at 16 of the 300-plus projects completed by James Stewart Polshek Architect, which he founded in 1963 and which later became Polshek Partnership Architects. They include the award-winning Rose Center for Earth and Space in Manhattan; the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock; the Newseum in Washington, D.C.; the renovated Carnegie Hall in Manhattan; and the Santa Fe Opera complex in New Mexico. In 2005, Polshek withdrew from participation in the firm; in 2010 his former partners rechristened it Ennead Architects. But if his name isn’t on the door, Polshek, now 84, still serves as “design counsel” to the firm and says he has “a happy home” there.