While it may sound a tad like a movie starring Kirk Douglas, Ennead Architects is the new official name of the firm formerly known as Polshek Partnership. The change, according to partner Todd Schliemann, who has been with the firm since 1979, is meant to reflect the collaborative and dedicated spirit that has long suffused the practice’s philosophy, founded in 1963 by James Polshek, now 80, and that will now be even more pronounced. Polshek retired from active duty five years ago, and there was some confusion, according to Schliemann, about who had designed which projects.
Giving the name change his blessing (although he did refer in a New York Times blog to the partners as “gods, or whatever”), Polshek will remain as Design Counsel overseeing his own projects, and providing guidance as needed. But where once the firm was organized much like an architecture school with Polshek at its head tracking all the projects and developing every client, the partners will now get work together and share their expertise as well as operate with more individual autonomy.
Currently, there are four senior design principals, including Schliemann: Susan Rodriguez, Richard Olcott, and Tomas Rossant, and five management principals. Each will bring in work while sharing design staff and support services. Younger associates will be charged with research assignments—sustainability, materials, new methodologies, etc.—encouraging them to claim a stake in the firm’s future. “When Jim retired, we realized we needed to be more of ourselves,” Schliemann said. “We didn’t need a dean. We wanted to be more like the Beatles where our individual work was great; and together we’re incredible.”
Ennead Architects will be an equal partnership with equal ownership where two partners will be assigned to every project. The details and the letterhead took two years to develop. Ennead, by the way, stands for “group of nine” in ancient Greek. It is meant to be more symbolic than literally the number of partners; something probably more suggestive of a ‘we few, few happy men and band of brothers’ vibe rather than an ‘I am Aeneas carrying my father on my back to found Rome’ deal. In any case, we look forward to following the future ventures of the Enneads.