45 Main Street, Suite 1026
New York

Tel: (718) 596-8300
Fax: (718) 596-8310


Garrison Architects


For Garrison Architects, design is guided by the belief that a clear social purpose must be the first determinant of a successful architectural solution. Through design informed by invention, intuition, and the art of construction, architecture can make a vital contribution to contemporary culture.

At the same time, it is the architect’s mission to work towards balancing human activity with the earth’s ecology. Our understanding of this dynamic must be developed through an ethical and scientific assessment of architecture as it impacts the environment.

Buildings reflect and inform the way humans interact with the earth. The responsibility of architecture, therefore, is not merely to apply sustainable principles to building materials and systems, but to enhance our experience of living on the earth. Garrison Architects accomplishes this through design that integrates environmental principles with regional building practices, providing opportunities for humans to participate in a mutually beneficial relationship with nature.


An open investigation involving multiple disciplines and influences is the ideal way to create architectural solutions. The firm’s location in New York City is in the midst of many of the firm’s constant and essential collaborators, including many of the world’s most outstanding engineers, artists, and technicians. Also, James Garrison’s constant involvement in teaching architectural design and sustainable technology, sustains a heartfelt commitment to the continual exploration and exchange of ideas.


Architecture is a manifestation of the values and priorities of a culture. It forms the stage for human activity. Communities reflect specific characteristics based on their history, climate, and geography. The role of architecture is to facilitate human activities, to reinforce communal identity, and to reflect a progressive attitude that looks to the greatest good of humanity.


As human population and economic activities expand, it has become imperative that we maintain a balance with nature. Architecture must support our awareness of the natural world and tread as lightly as possible. Our architecture combines environmental principles gained from regional building traditions with state-of-the-art computer modeling and analysis. We create buildings that are informed by climate and landscape, maintain human health, and conserve resources.


One of the first roles of architecture is to create a place for public life. To do so, we build great public streets, vistas and spaces that will enrich the experience of the community and their appreciation of its most important institutions. We design individual buildings as elements that are part of the greater whole.


The poetic content of architecture results from a profound understanding of the symbolic power of architectural ideas. Architecture without poetic inspiration cannot engage the soul. The poetic interaction of form, material, and structure can provoke emotional and intellectual understanding, which engages the breadth of human perception.


Construction is the medium of architecture. The mastery of that medium allows architecture to transcend pure form or style. Tectonics, or the art of building, illustrates and deepens the understanding of architectural ideas. Form, concept, structure, and material are inseparable elements in a complete work of architecture.

The act of building in contemporary society is a complex one, requiring the collaboration of a broad coalition of specialists, builders, clients, and community representatives. The role of the architect is to create consensus among diverse voices.


Sustainability must be considered as a matter of continuous evolution in terms of both evolution and technique. An exploration of that evolution lies at the core of our practice. Garrison Architects seeks to move away from notions such as planned obsolescence, machinery, and the control of nature. We are evolving new architectural techniques informed by the reality that human beings and their activities are part of and determined by their relationship to nature. In contrast to artificially tempered environments of the International Style which ignored climactic distinctions and thus required tremendous amounts of energy, Garrison Architects makes buildings that respond to environmental contexts, employing a range of sustainability strategies from the elimination of air conditioning to the conservation of water and natural resources.

The language of architecture must heed ecological realities as environmental criteria take precedence over market-driven or purely expressive concerns. Achieving sustainability is not a matter of simply adding technological devices to architecture – rather it is a joining of fundamental ecologically determined design strategies with state of the art control and analysis technologies. We have no interest in pursuing high energy, technologically sophisticated solutions for their own sake. We believe that architecture is the art of designing buildings rather than the art of making machines. We begin with the ideal of making a building with the longest possible useful life span. In this regard sustainability is allied with preservation.

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