Robert Stern, the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, is an American author, architect, and preservationist. Stern's buildings have something of a throwback style, and he draws inspiration from early American to late Deco.
Stern received degrees from both Columbia University and Yale University, where he graduated from the School of Architecture in 1965. After finishing Yale, Stern worked for Richard Meier before founding his own firm, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, in 1977. His firm, now 300 strong, is responsible for projects around the world, including the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Disney Feature Animation Building, in Burbank, California, and the future George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Stern, who has taught at Yale and Columbia, was appointed Dean of the Yale School of Architecture in 1998. Among other books, he is the author of New York 1880, New York 1960, and New York 2000, a series that documents the history and evolution of New York City's architecture.
Question: How will George W. Bush be remembered?
Stern: Now that’s a very interesting question because as the architect of the Bush library, clearly not an . . . I have to begin to think about it. And I . . . You know I did study American history in college, so I’m not without a historic knowledge and so forth. But I do know enough about presidents and the way things are remembered in general. And architects . . . Some architects . . . Some presidents leave in a blaze of glory only to crash and burn through the pages of history. Others are not maybe so well respected in their own time. And then when . . . Especially when scholars get to have access to the papers that we . . . Nobody knows what kinds of briefings and information and so forth such presidents were given, you begin to say, “Oh my god. He was really confronting some amazing issues,” etc. etc. So I don’t know how President Bush will be remembered. But I guarantee you he will be remembered somewhat differently as the pages of history are turned than he is now.
Question: How will the library make him memorable?
Stern: Oh now that’s really a tough one, and I don’t know if I’m gonna give that away to the YouTube set because I’m working on that. I’m thinking about that. I’m not at the stage where I’m really involved in the design of the building because there are issues about the acquisition of the site which are . . . I am involved with which are, you know, setting site lines and things like that which are very important. But that’s where we are. The Bush library sits at the edge . . . assuming the site they’re negotiating with goes through . . . at the edge of the Southern Methodist University campus which is a very beautiful, coherent, red brick, basically Georgian style campus. And the Bush . . . The President – Gerald Turner – of the university would like the Bush library to compliment the campus. And President Bush and especially Mrs. Bush went to SMU _________. On the other hand they want this building to be about the presidency and the Bush presidency, as every president who has built a library starting with Franklin Roosevelt, who designed his own library in his own way. So that’s a very interesting _________, but I don’t have the answer. But at least you’ve hit the question.