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: Who are you?
Stern: My name is Robert A.M. Stern. I am an architect and the founding partner of Robert Stern Architects in New York. And I’m the Dean of the School of Architecture at Yale University in New Haven. Being born is always a traumatic experience I’m told. But I was born in Brooklyn, although my parents at that time lived in Manhattan. But then they moved to Brooklyn. Go figure that one out. Growing up in Brooklyn and growing up in New York were, in my mind, slightly different. New York being Manhattan, or Manhattan being New York, and Brooklyn being nowhere. Now Brooklyn’s very glamorous. All I wanted to do was get out of Brooklyn at the time I grew up. Of course that’s, you know, easy to say with hindsight. You know I’m sure I had a wonderful childhood and so forth. But in my mind I always thought things happened in Manhattan.
Question: Who was your greatest influence?
Stern: By the time I got to architecture school – which I suppose is the most relevant thing to touch on in this context – the chairman of the Department of Architecture was Paul Rudolph. Amazing teacher, amazing architect, at that time at the top of his game, the great architectural historian. Rudolph died in 1997. But the great architectural historian Vincent Scully is still teaching at Yale and was a great mentor to me and remains a good . . . a mentor and a friend. And I think the third person from the world of architecture was Philip Johnson who saw a certain potential in me as . . . and was always very . . . always showed interest in what I was doing.