The Style Files: Peter Pennoyer

Peter Pennoyer is one of the most talented American architects working today. He is the principal partner of his eponymous, New York-based architecture firm which has sixty members and handles commissions the world over. Peter “has made the study of history a generating force in his work and believes that by mastering the interpretation of architectural history, he and his colleagues design projects that are both modern and classical.” Peter’s firm is currently designing projects spanning from Hong Kong to Florida and include residential, institutional, and commercial buildings. Peter serves as adjunct professor in the Architecture and Urban Studies program at New York University and works as an advocated for historic preservation. Peter has co-authored five books, including, Harrie T. Lindberg and The American Country House which was just released in November and focuses on the hugely influential, yet often overlooked architect whose steeply sloping roofs, modest materials, and eclectic traditionalism have had a massive impact on the American country house as we know it today. Peter lives in Bronxville, New York with his wife, interior designer, Katie Ridder and their three children. I recently had the opportunity to interview Peter and have truly enjoyed learning more about this incredibly talented architect, including the fact that he has a very sharp sense of humor. Enjoy!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Peter Pennoyer: Trailing current trends by one decade (at least) saves me from the perils of being fashionable.

PC: How has living in New York influenced your aesthetic?

PP: New York has always given me inspiration. I admire the great landmarks like Ralph Walker’s One Wall Street but what really speaks to me are the buildings that join to make great streetscapes like Striver’s Row. Most of all, New Yorkers give me energy – from my NYU students to my artist friends.

PC: What does your home say about you?

PP: My home shows that I like to take familiar, classical architecture and transform it into something unexpected, but comfortable.

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

PP: We have almost 10,000 books in our library but my deepest inspiration comes from traveling and experiencing buildings first hand. My first trip this year was to Naples (Italy) a font of inspiration.

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

PP: Scott Disick … but seriously, Whitney Warren, the architect of Grand Central Terminal and my friend, Madison Cox, the esteemed garden designer.

{Grand Central Terminal | Photography via Condé Nast Traveler}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

PP: Honesty and a tendency to a romantic commitment to an architect’s vision – a fundamental trust in the creative process.       

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

PP: Breaded pig’s foot at Pied de Cochon in Paris or just about anywhere hog is served.

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

PP: My former teacher, ex-employer and life-long friend Bob Stern has inspired me to look at the world with an analytical eye while taking joy in the beauty around us.

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

PP: Our new book Harrie T. Lindeberg and the American Country House is just out. This unsung architect designed some of most elegant and comfortable country houses of the first decades of the 20th century. We are designing an exhibit on the Architecture of Rosario Candela at the Museum of the City of New York and we are finishing a house inspired by Czech Cubism. We recently launched a Peter Pennoyer Architects-designed custom architectural hardware collection executed by Lowe Hardware in Maine. 

Go-To Outfit: I have worn a necktie every weekday since first grade and I’m not about to drop that.

Style Mantra: Simplicity is complicated to achieve.

Scent: Vetiver

Piece of Jewelry: My red leather lapel button embossed with a gold “18” identifies me as member number 18 of the People’s Committee for the Preservation of Fine Bindings.

Color I Never Tire Of: Red

Flower: Peonies

Indispensable Design Element: Arches

Era for Design: Regency

Dream Project: a house for Prince Charles

Fabric/Textile: Tiger stripe hand loomed silk from Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua in Venice

Hostess Gift: A copy of whatever I’m reading. Currently: Ordinary Wolves by Seth Kantner

Meal: Stuffed Quail or veal kidneys

Drink: Pomerol

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Read

3 Things I Love About My City: The view from my office of jazz-age skyscrapers. The New York Public Library. Townhouse side streets on the Upper East Side.

Weekend Destination: Millbrook, New York

Hotel: Ett Hem in Stockholm

City: Rome

Museum: The Morgan Library & Museum

Artist: Winslow Homer

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Almost anything by Cole Porter

Actor/Actress: Téa Leone

Prized Possession: My baby blue Vespa

Greatest Extravagance: Dry-aged when chuck steak would do

Go-To Color Palette: Brown with sharp green

Rule to Break: Walk, don’t run

Movie Set Design: The drawing rooms in Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship (2016)

I can never have too many…Books

{Photography by Eric Piasecki, Courtesy of Peter Pennoyer, Unless Otherwise Noted}

 

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  1. I’m very late to this particular post but have to say this may be my favorite Style File yet! I learned so much and you were right about his humor, Paloma. He had me at “Scott Disick is my style icon”.