The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has awarded the coveted 2018 AIA Gold Medal—which honors an architect for work that has left an indelible mark on the theory and practice of architecture—to James Stewart Polshek.
Polshek, who founded his eponymous firm in 1963 (the practice eventually became Ennead Architects in 2010 following Polshek’s retirement in 2005), is known for both sensitive restorations and innovative new structures, serving as principal architect for projects like the Rose Center for Earth and Space at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, as well as the renovations of Carnegie Hall and Brooklyn’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Polshek is also credited with reinvigorating Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he served as Dean from 1972-1987. Revising the school’s curriculum and attracting top teaching talent, Polshek shaped the perspectives and practices of a new generation of architects.
“Polshek’s sensitivity as an architect and his willingness to give credit to others — whether they be his clients, staff or collaborators — have helped restore the promise that architecture can be an uplifting force in the world,” reads the announcement from the AIA.
Also announced this week is the winner of the AIA’s Architecture Firm Award: Snow Kreilich Architects. The honor is given annually to a firm that has created “distinguished architecture” for the last decade or more.
The Minneapolis-based studio of Julie Snow and Matt Kreilich—where 50 percent of employees are women or minorities—has designed everything from ports of entry for the U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection in Maine and Minnesota, to ballparks and family homes.
“This is an architecture of use and convenience, permanence, and beauty, deeply rooted to its place, and constructed of materials choreographed in an emotive way, with poetic qualities that move us deeply,” said Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, in a letter supporting the firm’s nomination.