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 is a Design Partner in Ennead Architects. Mr. Olcott, together with his Design Partners, sets the design standards for the firm as well as charts its future direction. His award-winning work for educational, cultural and civic institutions is recognized internationally for architectural excellence. His design approach has been driven by three principal pursuits: the exploration of contemporary architecture as a means of creating a sense of place and identity; the integration of contemporary architecture into historic or otherwise significant urban or campus fabric; and advocacy for the preservation of significant historic buildings and districts. He creates buildings that are at once expressive of their missions and integral to their particular contexts while avoiding formulaic language or “style.”

Mr. Olcott received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning and spent a year in Cornell’s Program in Urban Design at the Architectural Association in London. Complementing his professional practice, Mr. Olcott is a member of the Board of Directors of the Municipal Art Society and a member of the organization’s Preservation Committee. Mr. Olcott served as a Commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1996 to 2007. He is the recipient of the American Academy in Rome’s Founders Rome Prize Fellowship for 2003-04. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.


Performing Arts


Higher Education


Industrial & Infrastructure

Hospitality & Residential

  • 2014
    • Sullivan Street Hotel, New York, NY (unbuilt)
  • 2011
    • Koons Townhouse, New York, NY (study)
  • 2011
    • Koons Residence, Red Lion, PA (study)
  • 1988
    • Barnard College, Sulzberger Hall, New York, NY



  • 2014
    • Jones Hall Performing Arts Center Renovation, Houston, TX
  • 2011
    • Stanford University, Applied Sciences Facility in New York City, New York, NY
  • 2005
    • University of Virginia, South Lawn Project, Charlottesville, VA
  • 2002
    • Smithsonian Institution, The Castle Renovation Feasibility Study, Washington, DC
  • 1999
    • The University of Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art Program Study and Master Plan, Lawrence, KS
  • 1999
  • 1996
    • The Ohio State University, College of the Arts Feasibility Study and Master Plan, Columbus, OH
  • 1995
    • Manhattan Supreme Court Criminal Term Building, New York, NY

Ennead Lab

  • 2012
    • Pennsylvania State University Veterans’ Plaza, University Park, PA
  • 2012
    • Clinton Foundation Photovoltaic Array, Little Rock, AR (study)
  • 2011
    • New Jersey Audubon Photovoltaic Project, Bernardsville, NJ
  • 2009
    • 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
    • The Architectural League of New York
    • Municipal Art Society, Board of Directors, Chair of Preservation Committee
    • College of Fellows, American Institute of Architects


Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, NCARB