Robert A.M. Stern on the Biggest Problem in Architecture

Stern thinks it's the tendency toward mega-firms.
  • Transcript


Question: What is the biggest problem in architecture?

Stern: Oh my god. I don’t know. I mean there are so many. I mean I think that our sustainable responsibilities are acute. The public is on our case as architects, as they should be. The practice of architecture – and this is something we discuss with students in the school quite often – is the tendency, as in many other disciplines, to larger and larger practices. Yet young, talented people want to start their own world. And it takes . . . It’s harder and harder. When I went to school Paul Rudolph, who I mentioned earlier on, said the ideal office is about 25 or 35 people. By the time he died he came to realize that by following his own advice as it were, he had been cut off from huge opportunities to design. He had many more . . . He could have produced much more work of high quality. Today offices are, you know . . . A 100 person office is not even to blink at. And I shudder to tell you how big an office like mine has become just . . . not because I set out to do it; it just is the way it is.

Recorded on: 12/5/07