Richard Olcott FAIA, FAAR

Richard Olcott FAIA, FAAR

Richard Olcott

Architecture is about creating an organism – a holistic three-dimensional framework within which human beings live, learn and interact.

Buildings and their open spaces choreograph human activity, and their spatial organization is a representation of the hierarchy and dynamic of human interaction. Architecture is about creating an organism – a holistic three-dimensional framework within which human beings live, learn, and interact. Whether designing a space to house an unparalleled collection of modern and contemporary art or one to optimize performance in a concert hall, I am interested in an architecture that resonates with and reinforces its context and its purpose and can heighten experience. Attention to the embodiment of program specificity, whether in overall purpose, materiality or in small details, is what can truly create memorable places. This also entails the investigation of new typologies that better reflect the complexities of our culture, with a more inclusive attitude towards history. The same is true at the urban scale. I am interested in how architecture can reinvent itself through absorption, transformation, and addition to the existing urban condition, and thereby reinforce what already exists: a contemporary architecture that can enrich rather than overwhelm the historic fabric of cities.

Featured Work


Richard Olcott FAIA, FAAR, is a Design Partner at Ennead Architects where over the last four decades he has developed an award-winning body of work for leading cultural, civic, and educational institutions around the globe. Richard’s work is grounded in the power of architecture as an interpretive medium, one that can communicate the complexities of contemporary society and create a lasting cultural impact. He is interested in how architecture can reinvent itself within the existing urban condition through absorption, addition, and transformation. Eschewing a formulaic language, he creates buildings that are at once expressive of their missions and rooted in their uniquely specific contexts.

Richard’s work has received numerous awards for design excellence, among them, National AIA Honor Awards, New York State AIA Awards, New York City AIA Awards and American Architecture Awards from the Chicago Athenaeum.



Performing Arts

Higher Education

Industrial & Infrastructure

Commercial & Mixed-Use

Hospitality & Residential

    • Sullivan Street Hotel, New York, NY (unbuilt)
    • Koons Townhouse, New York, NY (study)
    • Koons Residence, Red Lion, PA (study)
    • Barnard College, Sulzberger Hall, New York, NY


    • Jones Hall Performing Arts Center Renovation, Houston, TX
    • University of Virginia, South Lawn Project, Charlottesville, VA
    • Smithsonian Institution, The Castle Renovation Feasibility Study, Washington, DC
    • The University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art Program Study and Master Plan, Lawrence, KS
    • The Ohio State University, College of the Arts Feasibility Study and Master Plan, Columbus, OH
    • Manhattan Supreme Court Criminal Term Building, New York, NY

Ennead Lab

    • Broadway: 1000 Steps, New York, NY
    • Startup Box: South Bronx, Bronx, NY
    • Pennsylvania State University Veterans’ Plaza, University Park, PA
    • Clinton Foundation Photovoltaic Array, Little Rock, AR (study)
    • New Jersey Audubon Photovoltaic Project, Bernardsville, NJ
    • Harnessing the Waterfront, New York, NY (concept)



  • 1979
    • Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning, Bachelor of Architecture
  • 1978
    • Cornell University, London Program in Urban Design Architectural Association, London, England

Professional Experience

  • 1979-present
    • Ennead Architects

Academic Appointments

  • Favrot Visiting Professor, Spring 2018
    • Tulane University
  • Visiting Juror
    • Columbia University, Cornell University, Parsons School of Design, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University, University of Toronto, Yale University
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, 1986-1988
    • Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Professional Affiliations

  • Commissioner, 1996-2007
    • New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
  • 2004
    • American Academy in Rome, Fellow
  • 2020-2022
    • Municipal Art Society, Board of Directors, Co-Chair of Preservation Committee
    • The Architectural League of New York
    • College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects
    • National Academy of Design, Member


Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, NCARB