In his new book Build, Memory (Monacelli Press), the award-winning architect James Stewart Polshek chronicles his fifty-plus-year career in a unique “memoir of projects” that tells his story through 16 key works. (The title is a play on Vladimir Nabokov’s memoir, Speak, Memory.) Polshek writes a candid personal narrative that details his experience designing landmark projects such as the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, the Newseum in Washington, DC, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Pentagram has designed the book with a clear, cogent format that complements Polshek’s articulate and accessible writing.
The designers worked closely with Polshek and consulting editor Andrea Monfried on the project. Build, Memory is organized as a series of 16 project case studies that flow into each other and are illustrated with hundreds of images, from architectural drawings and plans to commissioned project photography to personal photographs from Polshek’s personal archive. For the designers, the challenge was weaving all this material into the narrative in a way that felt natural and true to the personal tone of the book.
The designers created an open, flexible grid that gives the pages structure but still lets them breathe. The 512-page book is dense with information but doesn’t feel heavy; the friendly, easy-to-read format sets off Polshek’s engaging text. Images are layered and appear in a wide range of sizes that lend spreads a sense of depth, with photographs keyed to numbered passages in the text. The book is set in the Brown typeface.