Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: About the Center: Gallery Design

Susan T. Rodriguez picture

Susan Rodriguez is a Design Partner in Polshek Partnership Architects, an internationally acclaimed architecture firm located in New York City. The majority of the firm's work is for not-for-profit educational, cultural, scientific, and governmental institutions. Projects have received numerous awards for design excellence, including twelve AIA Honor Awards. The firm was awarded the President's Medal of the New York Chapter AIA in 2003, and in 2004, received the Smithsonian Institution Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture.

Ms. Rodriguez has designed buildings and environments that convey her passionate belief both in architecture as an interpretive medium and in its profound ability to communicate the values of contemporary society. Insights and investigation into the unique circumstances and characteristics of a project—physical, programmatic, environmental, historical, political and cultural—provide a point of departure for her development of a profound architectural commentary. Combining a keen sense of materials and color with inventive detailing to activate powerful formmaking, she creates a distinct architectural expression for each project that corresponds to its unique identity and mission. Fundamental to her design process are the importance of the human condition, and following from this, the formative influence of program on the definition of a dynamic three-dimensional framework for human interaction.

Her work ranges in scale and type—from renovations of intimate existing spaces to new large-scale independent structures—all of which focus upon the essential integration of exterior and interior space and the vital unity of site and program. Through this emphasis on the indivisibility of building and site—whether rural landscape or dense urban context—she seeks to create an architecture that is fused with its surroundings and is driven by the logic of the program. An extraordinary level of detail resolution, the inventive integration of natural light, and the exploration of innovative materials, technologies, and systems characterize all her work. Underscoring the significance of the environment and architecture's role in its preservation, her designs are models for the application of sustainable design strategies.

In addition to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, her recent work for cultural institutions include the Asheville Museum of Art Expansion, the Drue Heinz Center for Prints and Drawings at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the National Museum of the American Indian Cultural Resources Center, and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum. Education projects are also a significant focus of her work, including the Heimbold Center for Visual Arts at Sarah Lawrence College, Bard Graduate Center for the Decorative Arts Academic Building, Lycée Français de New York, and Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts. Among her institutional projects is the U.S. Courthouse in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the New York State Supreme Courthouse on Staten Island, and the recently opened Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory at The New York Botanical Garden.

In her leadership role as a design partner in Polshek Partnership, she sets design direction for the firm and participates in its management. She is a committed advocate for her clients, representing the architectural expression of their missions before public regulatory agencies, shepherding designs through the public approvals processes, and building enthusiastic consensus among various constituencies.

As an extension of her professional work, Ms. Rodriguez is actively involved in promoting the importance of design in the public realm. To this end, she serves on the Executive Committee of the Van Alen Institute as Second Vice President and on the Executive Committee of the Architectural League as Vice President for Architecture. In the academic realm, Ms. Rodriguez participates as a design juror at colleges and universities, has taught numerous studios at Cornell University, City College, and Columbia University and serves on the Dean's Advisory Council of the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning. She is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Ms. Rodriguez received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University College of Architecture, Art and Planning and a Master's degree in Architecture and Building Design from the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. She joined Polshek Partnership in 1985.