Franklin Report Report Card for Peter Pennoyer Architects in New York City
★ Franklin Report Card

Peter Pennoyer Architects

136 Madison Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY 10016
(212) 779-9765
Main Contact: Peter Pennoyer


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Services & Specialties
Classical and traditional residential and landmark architecture

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FR Review:
In addition to new construction, Peter Pennoyer is especially well suited to painstaking restorations of historic, classical structures. And if the exquisite moldings, cornices, wainscoting and other details are not in place, you can count on Pennoyer to recreate them seamlessly. The firm approaches its work with an "imaginative historicism," channeling Edith Wharton and Warren & Wetmore. Pennoyer specializes in high-end, extensive, major landmark residential work in New York and will only do smaller jobs for former clients. Past projects include numerous Upper East Side townhouses and apartments; a horse farm in Virginia; oceanfront homes in the Hamptons, Maine, and Massachusetts; a lodge in the Adirondacks; a ski house in Utah; and several of New York's most prestigious private clubs.

Pennoyer received an M.Arch. from Columbia, followed by an apprenticeship with Robert A. M. Stern. Since 1990, he has directed his own firm, comprised of a competent and talented five partners. A large staff of more than fifty comprises associates, interior designers, and administration. Together, they typically work on about ten active projects at a time. We hear that Pennoyer is very selective about his jobs, taking great care and attention with each one. Clients are similarly selective with PPA, hiring the firm only for more complicated situations, given the high cost of construction. Pennoyer himself is known for a "responsible and cooperative" business attitude, however, we're told his sensitivity to cost and budget can be tempered by his determination to deliver the highest possible quality for the client, be it through design or materials. His fee structure depends on the scope of the project. Pennoyer has co-authored four monographs with Anne Walker, and in 2010 had his own monograph published by Vendome Press. AIA Fellow. AD100 2012, 2014. AD 100 2018 & 2019.

Representative Client Comments:
"One of the very few on the short list of the best architects for American Classicism on Park Avenue." "He gets the look of the finest right away which is helpful, because he is hard to persuade to your point of view." "Really wants to get it right, all the details, sometimes to the point beyond where I understand." "He turned a hellhole of a wrecked townhouse into the most beautiful space imaginable." "He lives and breathes the style of the 19th-century gentleman architects." "Skilled at delivering extraordinary work at a comparably high cost-structure." "Can really stress out the contractor." "Would not be appropriate for mid-sized jobs." "He is to architecture what Tiffany is to jewelry." "Well known by the carriage trade of New York." "Organized, easy to work with, efficient, honest and gets it right the first time." "I used him twice--both of my homes are beautiful, well thought-out (very livable) and practical."

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Posted 1/22/2015
Reviewed By:
Matthew Patrick Smyth New York ,NY

Bottom Line:
As good as it gets.
A modern master, absolutely will deliver the finest historic details suffused with precision and charm. A grand vision and the scale to execute it.
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REGISTERED (2 reviews)
Posted 7/8/2014
Reviewed By:
Jacqueline Sackler New York ,NY

Bottom Line:
Very easy to work with. Expensive but they deliver quality and make the experience as easy as possible. They are organized and so the contractor has to be as well. All of this leads to a successful project.
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Project Description & Comments:
Extremely organized, efficient, gets it "right" the first time around and honest. All that and my homes (I used him twice!) are beautiful, well thought out (very livable) and practical.
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Posted 8/28/2014
Reviewed By:
Mark Carhart New York ,NY

Bottom Line:
My wife and I have done many projects with architects over the years, and Peter Pennoyer was by far the best architect we ever worked with.
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Project Description & Comments:
PPA was our architect for a complete gut remodel of our Upper East Side townhouse originally built in 1874. The project was extensive, involving approvals from the NYC Landmark Commission and related organization, as well as extensive structural work. The structural work involved foundation underpinning to excavate cellar, waterproofing system to deal with high water table in our area, and a completely new interior structure including an elevator and steel and concrete floors and roof. On the interior, we have 6 finished floors including the cellar totally about 8,000 feet. We also chose to change contractors partway through our project which complicated and lengthened the construction process. Start to finish the project took 2 ½ years.

Peter and his team designed an exceptionally detailed and historically appropriate classical house. The original front façade, stoop and balustrade had been heavily edited over many generations. PPA researched facades of period houses and designed an historically appropriate front that was stunning. On the rear of the house, PPA took down the original extension and extended the house about half of the original distance but with a straight rear façade. The rear façade and the interior of the house were designed in a turn of the century style so that the interior didn’t feel Victorian and the entire remodel felt like it has occurred 100 years before. They designed a paneled staircase around central landings and a skylight. The cellar is finished laundry and utility space, storage, and mechanicals. The ground floor was designed around a kitchen in the center of the house with a family room in front and a dining room on the garden. The Parlor Floor centers on an oval, wood-paneled landing flanked by a smaller, bookcase-lined sitting room on the front of the house, and an open, light-filled living room on the rear. The third floor contains the master bedroom suite and a beautiful paneled office. The fourth floor has bedrooms and a small laundry area, and the top floor consists of a guest suite and gym around a center atrium with a vaulted ceiling and oculus skylight. For the rear garden, PPA brought in Madison Cox who designed a beautiful and fitting semi-formal garden in the back and a casual one on the roof.

The finished house has been featured in Architectural Digest and books by Peter Pennoyer and Jeffrey Bilhuber. It won the Best Restoration in 2007 from the Friends of the Upper East Side.

Working with Peter and his staff was truly a wonderful experience. Peter has an unusual combination of talents. Among these are an encyclopedic knowledge of architectural history, immense creativity, an ability to articulate the reason for all of his design suggestions, and an incredibly pleasant and personable style. He was also a great leader who delegated appropriately to his team and never directly criticized any ideas or suggestions. Somehow, he always navigated us to good choices. Our project was also complicated to lead, not only because we switched contractors, but because there were so many other trades to integrate including structural engineers, mechanical engineers, lighting consultants, A/V and technology consultants, security system people, interior designers, landscape architects, and many individual sub-contractors from various trades. In our entire time working with Peter and his team, they always managed to help everyone work well together, no matter how difficult were the personalities. On a personal basis, I found that I learned so much about architectural history, design and construction because Peter was always so willing to spend time explaining things to us. He also surrounded himself with a great staff. Tom Nugent was our main project architect, who is a genius and a gem of a guy. One of our other project architects was also exceptionally talented in classical design.

Finally, I want to stress what an incredibly honest and trustworthy guy Peter was throughout our project. He was forthright when there were issues and he was always willing to take the blame when things didn’t go as planned. For example, a slightly different marble had been installed in one location than what was spec’ed. There was no way that we would have noticed, but Peter brought it to our attention and asked if would like to have it corrected. But the very best example of Peter’s character occurred when we got our initial construction bids for our project. Peter had given us a rough ballpark estimate for construction cost, but not too surprisingly the bids came in substantially higher than we expected. Without us mentioning the topic, Peter immediately offered to lower his fee rate by a meaningful magnitude, reducing our architectural costs significantly over what we had originally agreed to pay. From my many interactions with Peter during our project and since that time, I can tell you that this experience was not an anomaly for him. Peter is of the highest integrity and he is the kind of person that anyone is fortunate to work with. We look forward to doing additional projects with him in the future.
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