New Work: Ennead Architects
Design firms with a namesake partner or design leader inevitably face a challenge when leadership passes to a new generation: how to establish an identity that distinguishes the firm from its former leader, maintains its legacy, and reflects the vitality of its current partnership? Today Polshek Partnership Architects announces the change of its name to Ennead Architects. The name, pronounced EN-ee-ad, is inspired by the Greek word for a group of nine, here the number of the firm’s current partnership: Joseph Fleischer, Timothy Hartung, Duncan Hazard, Kevin McClurkan, Richard Olcott, Susan Rodriguez, Tomas Rossant, Todd Schliemann and Don Weinreich.
Michael Bierut and Lisa Strausfeld have designed a new identity and website for Ennead that reflects the firm’s shared history and thriving collaboration. The branding strategy was developed in collaboration with LaPlaca Cohen.
The firm has grown organically in number since it was founded by James Stewart Polshek in 1963. Its recent and best-known projects include the design of the Rose Center of Earth and Space in New York, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Newseum in Washington, DC, and the Standard Hotel at the High Line in New York. Polshek retired from the partnership in 2005 and continues to serve as the firm’s design counsel. The firm’s identification with a single design leader has evolved to an identity defined by the collaboration of its current partnership.
Michael Bierut’s graphic identity for the new Ennead establishes this sense of open collaboration. Ennead’s practice emphasizes analytical problem solving and a response to specific environmental circumstances, and the stencil-like quality of the logo suggests this practical process and materiality. The stencil has been divided into a representative nine pieces. (Not as easy as it sounds!) The logotype is a custom drawing based on the font Stymie; the identity’s secondary font is Bau.
The website designed by Lisa Strausfeld and her team emphasizes Ennead as a collaborative group of nine partners. The structure of the site is flexible, with all content close to the surface. The elements of the firm’s practice—its projects, partners and philosophy—are represented by cards grouped into three distinct sets on the site homepage.
The Projects group of cards contains the firm’s portfolio. Here cards can be arranged chronologically—stacked in a timeline, with an emphasis on recent work—or sorted by project typology or location. Each card opens its own slideshow, with the project or material prominently featured. The Partner and Philosophy groups also include “Wild Cards,” where various subjects related to design can be examined in depth.
Pentagram has collaborated with the firm on a number of its projects, including the design of environmental graphics for the Rose Center for Earth and Space, Symphony Space, and the current renovations of the Public Theater and Museum of the City of New York.
Identity: Michael Bierut, partner-in-charge and designer; Joe Marianek, designer.
Website: Lisa Strausfeld, partner-in-charge and designer; Hilla Katki, designer; Christian Swinehart, developer.