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: What sparked your interest in architecture?
Stern: I have no idea. No particular event comes to my mind or whatever. It’s certainly true that in the post World War II era when I was . . . I was born in 1939 so you can do the math. Lots of stuff was happening in New York City. The United Nations was being built. Lever House was being built. I remember seeing Lever House when it was nearing completion for the first time because my dentist’s office was down the block so to speak; things that you could see at the Museum of Modern Art; the various houses that were built in the garden. I went to all of them with . . . my parents took me to them. And so let’s say subliminally that interested me. I did have a teacher in junior high school, and she was the art teacher or an art teacher. Her brother was a city planner. And when I expressed my interests I suppose, she connected me to the brother who was living in Cleveland as I recall. So it was just the fact there was somebody out there who might be interested in what I was doing – making little drawings and so forth.
Recorded on: 12/5/07