The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has named James Stewart Polshek the recipient of its 2018 Gold Medal. The organization’s highest honor, the award recognizes architects whose work has had an enduring impact on the theory and practice of architecture. Polshek is the AIA’s 74th Gold Medal winner.
Polshek, who received a Master of Architecture from Yale in 1955, is known for his contributions to both academia and the built environment. From 1972 to 1987, he served as the dean at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where he was credited with revitalizing the curriculum and attracting a world-renowned faculty.
While at Columbia, Polshek maintained his own practice, which he started in 1963. Originally called James Stewart Polshek Architect, it later became known as Polshek Partnership before transitioning in 2010 to its current iteration, Ennead. The firm’s work, much of which comprises cultural institutions and educational facilities, was awarded the AIA Architecture Firm Award in 1992.
Polshek’s 1987 renovation of Carnegie Hall in New York helped establish him as a premier restoration architect; other significant revitalization projects include the Brooklyn Museum entry plaza and pavilion, the Queens Hall of Science, and the Public Theater in New York. He is also known for his sleek, glass and steel design for Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library in Little Rock, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and the Newseum/Freedom Forum Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Ennead’s projects have garnered numerous honors from the AIA, most recently, the Bridge for Laboratory Sciences at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, which was named one of the best school projects of 2017 by the Committee on Architecture for Education.
In addition to the Gold Medal, the AIA also announced the winners of several other high honors, including the 2018 Architecture Firm Award, which will go to the Minneapolis-based Snow Kreilich. Jorge Silvetti will receive the Topaz Medallion, which honors educators; Lenore M. Lucey, the Edward C. Kemper Award; and Tamara Eagle Bull, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.