Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America

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Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America

In its proportions, materials and details, this formally and spatially abstract building design celebrates the singular and collective cultures of the five Scandinavian nations – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

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We hoped to develop a unique identity that would celebrate both the differences and the shared experiences of the participating countries. Our intention was to provide a unique identity that would represent the mission and aspirations of the institution, to create a welcoming threshold to Scandinavian culture.

James S. Polshek, Design Partner
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The fundamental spatial idea – loftlike floor plates, vertically linked by an identifiable core of circulation and services and unified by a singular façade – accommodates a variety of programs while simultaneously reinforcing spatial coherence.

The spatial configuration sponsored the design of a coherent façade that both reinforces the spatial clarity of the scheme and provides a unifying identity to the building. A screen wall of naturally-aged zinc panels, strip windows and Finnish spruce appears to float in front of a glass box, controlling natural light while advertising the colors, textures and unapologetic modern sensibility found within.

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Rooted in the craft of building, the materials palette invokes the mastery of material, texture and detail characteristic of Scandinavian architecture. Each country’s participation is expressed through the use of indigenous materials, products and techniques, combined in the articulation of the programs and spaces that the five countries and the United States share.

9720 Scandinavia House Ext Detail
2001 Jg02 211
9720 Scandinavia House Volvo Hall


New York, NY
28,000 GSF
165-seat Auditorium for Screenings, Music Performances and Symposia, Mixed-Use Reception and Gathering Space, Exhibition Galleries, Library, Children’s Learning Center, Conference Rooms, Seminar Rooms, Offices, Retail Shop


Design Partner
James S. Polshek
Management Partner
Joseph Fleischer
Project Designer
Robert Young
Project Manager
Joanne Sliker
Project Architect
Christopher Hall
Charmian Place
Design Team
Judi Bauer, Lucy Ciletti, Robert Condon, Nicole Johnson, Bruce Nichol, John Zimmer


  • 2005
    • Feldt, Marna. "A House that's a Home" (Scandinavia Review, 2005 Fall)
  • 2003
    • "Style Central: Scandinavia House" (Array, 2003 Winter)
  • 2002
    • Sheridan, Michael. "Nordic Light Over Manhattan" (The New York Times, 2002)
  • 2000
    • "In Honor of Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America" (Scandinavian Review, 2000 Fall)
  • 1999
    • Dunlap, David W. "A New Scandinavia House" (The New York Times, 2/14/1999)
    • "Building 'Scandinavia House' in Manhattan" (Norway Times, 6/17/1999)
    • "Ground breaking for Scandinavia House" (Nordstjernan, 6/3/1999)
    • "Scandinavian in USA" (Forum for Interior Decorating, Design and Architecture, 4/1999)
  • 1998
    • Nobel, Philip. "Other Museums" (The New York Times, 2/1998)


Cosentini Associates
Pillori Associates, P.A.
Brandston Partnership, Inc.
Poulin + Morris, Inc.
Shen Milsom & Wilke
Construction Specifications, Inc.
Code/Life Safety
Jerome S. Gillman Consulting Architect, P.C.
Cost Estimating
Wolf & Company, P.C.
Food Service
Romano Gatland
Iros Elevator Design Services, Inc.
Leonard J. Strandberg & Associates
Testwell Laboratories, Inc.
Construction Manager
Richard Barnes, Jeff Goldberg/Esto, Thomas Loof, Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects