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Architect of major cultural buildings like D.C.'s Newseum speaks there May 10

Newseum architect James Stewart Polshek appears there May 10 to discuss and sign his new book "Build, Memory", about the many major arts and cultural buildings he has designed, and his 60-year career in architecture.

Celebrated architect James Stewart Polshek discusses and signs his new book "Build, Memory" May 10 at Washington's Newseum, which he designed.
Architect James Stewart Polshek talks about "Build, Memory" May 10 at D.C.'s Newseum, which he designed. The Monacelli Press

Polshek's U.S. projects include the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark.; the Santa Fe Opera; New York City's renovation of the 1891 Carnegie Hall; the American Museum of Natural History' Rose Center, Brooklyn Museum, Scandinavia House, Lycée Français de New York; and the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. His international works range from Japan to Oman (the U.S. Embassy in Muscat).

The celebrated 84-year-old architect has devoted almost his entire life to "architectural practice, education, and public services." Polshek says in the book's preface, "Ambition, impatience, imagination, persistence, optimism, and energy have served me well in architecture, but they have not allowed me the time to look back. Finally my addiction to work has diminished. I am ready to remember and to reflect."

His glorious book, just published by The Monacelli Press, presents gorgeously illustrated personal, historical, and of course architectural narratives of 16 projects.

Polshek focuses on "beginnings -- the intellectual challenge of the project -- and endings -- the ways the project nurtures the social interests of its community." (Italics are his.)

He says modestly that "Perhaps" his six-decade architecture practice "goes beyond the empirical to serve the common good."

At the Newseum event, "A Life in Architecture", the Ohio-born, Yale-educated Polshek will be interviewed by "Washington Post" columnist Roger Lewis, an architect.

Polshek's "life" includes his current membership on New York City's Public Design Commission. He is a former dean of Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

"Build, Memory" was clearly influenced by Vladimir Nabokov's autobiography and incisive critique of his major works, "Speak, Memory".

The architect quotes the writer, "'...I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, in such a way as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip.'"

Polshek ends his preface to "Build, Memory" with, "Time and healing, buildings and memories. Please don't trip."

For more info and tickets: "A Life in Architecture", Architect James Stewart Polshek interviewed by "Washington Post" columnist Roger Lewis, Newseum,, Knight TV Studio, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. May 10, 2:30 P.M. Tickets. Phone 888-NEWSEUM (888-639-7386). "Build, Memory" (The Monacelli Press).

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