Richard and Sandy Pollack met in 1972 while they were both studying at Pratt Institute. Richard was then an architecture student while Sandy was studying art. After they married and moved to California, Richard started his own architecture firm in 1985 while Sandy worked as a graphic design consultant.
Throughout their dynamic careers and now in retirement they have stayed connected to their shared alma mater. They recently established an endowed scholarship that alternates between the School of Architecture and the School of Design. For Giving Day, Richard and Sandy discussed why they wanted to give back and how Pratt made a lasting impact on their lives.
What inspires you to give to Pratt?
We received wonderful educations at Pratt that enabled us to have long and rewarding careers. Education is the prime driver to keep our society and country moving forward into the future.
You were featured as one of the 2021 Pratt Pairs: how did you meet?
We met through a mutual childhood friend of Sandy’s, another Pratt grad from Detroit, where Sandy grew up. We all live in Northern California and are now retired from successful careers thanks to Pratt.
You both have had prolific careers in the areas you studied at Pratt—Rich with architecture and Sandy with graphic design. What is something you learned while students that you’ve carried forward in your lives?
Richard: For me, it was learning about design and the impact of design on the world. There are different types of architectural programs, some focusing on preparing students for jobs and others on critical design thinking. Pratt is the latter, and while I did not graduate with immediate job skills, design thinking allowed me to show my problem-solving abilities—which is what design is all about. That foundation enabled me to succeed in my career in New York, join a firm in San Francisco, start my own firm, and have the joy of watching my colleagues prosper and grow as well.
Sandy: Our talented Pratt professors—who were also successful professional artists outside the classroom—made a huge impact on our learning experience. I still revert to drawing techniques and design skills that were part of my studies. Through Pratt’s connections, I worked for design studios and publishers while I was attending Pratt. These New York City businesses were an extension of the classroom, giving me real-world experience and connections that helped me grow technically and creatively. After graduation, I already had a foot in the door—getting paid well to do exciting work. Pratt’s reputation was always a benefit when submitting a resume and portfolio.
What do you hope to pass on through giving?
Owing to our educations—and Sandy was a scholarship recipient—we were given opportunities and prospered in our careers. We feel it’s important to give back; creating and endowing our scholarship is one step along that road.
Join the Pratt community on 3.23.22 for our first Giving Day! For 24 hours, we will dedicate attention to supporting student scholarships, programs, and experiences that make Pratt special. Visit donate.pratt.edu.