James Stewart Polshek
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) gave its Gold Medal to James Stewart Polshek, whose career the jury described as a combination of “design excellence, effective collaboration and rigorous research work in concert to create enduring architecture,” distinguished with “more than 200 design awards, the 1992 AIA Architecture Firm Award, and 15 National Honor Awards for Architecture.” Born in 1930 in Akron, Ohio, Polshek earned a Master of Architecture degree at Yale University in 1955. After working with I. M. Pei he founded his own office in 1963, which would become one of the most important in the United States. Polshek managed to combine his professional activity with research and teaching, and was Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation between 1972 and 1987, period during which the architecture school played a key role in the discussion over style and meaning in the context of postmodernism. Polshek also reinforced the GSAPP’s commitment with heritage issues and, as the AIA Award mentions, managed to recover the prestige of a school that was in decline at the time.