Robert A.M. Stern on How American Architecture Compares to Europe's

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.

  • Transcript


Question: How does American architecture compare to Europe’s?

Stern: Well American architecture in . . . in my formative years as an architect was, without question, because of the end of Second World War – we had the money but nobody else much did – was at the forefront. And we really developed the corporate style of architecture which I think comes into some considerable question both in historic terms and in contemporary terms at this moment. I think Western European architecture, some of the most important buildings and architects have come out of Western Europe. And part of it goes back to the sustainability issue where the cost of buildings is in such a different ratio to the . . . to the building itself that architects have been forced to examine certain issues much more carefully – functional issues, mechanical issues, ventilation issues – which have given rise to a certain sophistication of approach that we got rather lazy and slapdash about in this country.

Recorded on: 12/5/07