Robert A. M. Stern believes it’s important to continue learning throughout life. An acclaimed modern architect with an eye to the classics, New York-born and raised, Stern is the former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, and founder of Robert A.M. Stern Architects. He teaches the importance of understanding traditionalism and incorporates some of these elements in his designs. Find out more about one of the strongest voices in 21st century American vernacular architecture and Disneyland town planner.
“The dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have because, when you’re talking about building a house, you’re talking about dreams.” — Robert A. M. Stern
Spotlight on Robert A. M. Stern
Robert A.M. Stern was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 23, 1939. Growing up in a one-bedroom apartment in New York, he enjoyed going down to Wall Street to wander around on a Saturday morning and soak up the skyline. Stern would often ask his parents to drive him to visit neighboring towns to examine different buildings on their vacations.
Stern’s favorite architects as a teenager were modernists such as Le Corbusier and Gropius. After gaining a degree in history at Columbia University, he enrolled at Yale University to study architecture. The architecture department was at the top floor of the Louis Kahn’s art gallery, and Stern enjoyed looking out over the different big brick buildings belonging to the campus, and felt enthused to see these shapes.
Stern once said “I always thought I was going to be a modern architect. I still am a modern architect, I’m just a modern architect who knows about classicism and traditional forms.”
After graduating from Yale, Stern went to work for the Architectural League of New York and later in the office of architect Richard Meier. In 1977 he established his firm Robert A. M. Stern Architects, now known as RAMSA, which employs over 250 people.
For 18 years, Stern was the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, believing that it’s important to continue learning even as a teacher.
As well as private houses and condominiums in New York, Stern has designed for universities including two residential colleges at Yale University. You can also see many of Stern’s designs at Disney’s theme parks. Many of these use traditional looking elements with their arches and latticework, but Stern has also designed skyscrapers.
New York City wouldn’t look the same without the apartment buildings designed by Stern, including the 20 East End Avenue, The Chatham, The Brompton and 15 Central Park West. There are three skyscrapers yet to be completed, which will be among the tallest in the city.
Stern believes in looking at traditional forms as the building blocks for future projects.
Importance of Education
Among many of Stern’s buildings and designs, he especially enjoys building college campuses and places centered around learning and teaching. As well as building for a lot of campuses, Stern believes that architects should always be learning too, and runs his firm like a school with lectures and an office library.
With no signs of slowing down, Robert A. M. Stern continues to run RAMSA is in his 80s. There are many projects still in the pipelines, while many recently developed buildings are winning awards for excellence, sustainability and community impact. So keep your eyes peeled for the latest news!