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James Stewart Polshek


Polshek was born in Akron OH. Polshek initially intended to study medicine, enrolling premed at Case Western Reserve University in 1947. After deciding to study architecture, he transferred to Yale in 1950 and studied under Louis Kahn, graduating five years later with a Master of Architecture degree.  Polshek first worked for I. M. Pei, Ulrich Franzen, and other architects before establishing James Stewart Polshek Architect in 1963. His projects included the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center, Rose Center for Earth and Space, Newseum, Ed Sullivan Theater, and the refurbishment of Carnegie Hall. Polshek became the dean of the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University in 1973, serving until 1987. Polshek was 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. Case Western Reserve University eventually granted his Bachelor of Science degree in 1973, forgiving the eight credits he was short. He won the AIA New York Gold Medal in 1986 and the national AIA Gold Medal in 2018.  One of his best known buildings is the Newseum in Washington DC.


The 2008 Newseum/Freedom Forum Foundation World Headquarters, 555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC. Offices, residence, and galleries.  Financialy a failure, the building closed in 2019 was sold for $372.5 million to Johns Hopkins University.  Ennead was hired to do the remodel.

The firm changed names to Ennead and Polshek retired in 2005, keeping the title of design counsel. His book, Build, Memory, was published in 2014.  Polshek married Ellyn Margolis in 1952; they had two children: Peter and Jennifer. Polshek received honorary degrees from Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Columbia. Bio adapted from Wikipedia. Research by Catherine Westergaard Cramer.

1965 - The Edgar and Ann Loeb Bronfman Pool House. This was a referral to Polshek from Philip Johnson.  The Bronfmans eventually destroyed the pool house and sold the main house.  Status unknown.

Mid-1960s - The Gerald Oster Townhouse, Manhattan NY.


1981 - The US Embassy, Jamiat Al Dowal Al Arabiya, Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

1984 - 500 Park Tower, Manhattan NY. 40 stories, mixed-use, lower 11 floors for offices, top 29 floors for residential. The 2 towers on the right are Ennead's, the front facing glass and steel building was designed by Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois while working at SOM in 1954. De Blois is listed as primary designer.

2010 - The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt House Renovation at Hunter College, 47-49 East 65th Street, New York NY. Originally, this was a house for the Roosevelts and his mother.

Sources include: Ennead