Question: Why is architecture important?
Stern: I once did a television series for Public Broadcasting called “Pride of Place”. And I realized that people were very interested in what I was doing – more interested the average than non-architects than the architects, because the architects all quarreled with my interpretation, as indeed they had every right to. I was quarreling with theirs. But the . . . The average television watcher – the Public Broadcasting television watcher – could engage me and stop me on streets. And so for a long time I had the false illusion that I was an important person. And they’d engage me in discussion, because I didn’t always hit them with the word “architecture” like a thunderbolt. You know the Frank Lloyd Wright, Ayn Rand, Gary Cooper movie. And I showed them . . . I talked about things that were quite familiar to them and how they really were architecture. And they were good architecture. In any case I do believe that the public is intimately involved in architecture. And look at all these magazines devoted on the residential scale, which is what people can feel engaged in on a personal basis to build houses, and apartments, and loft living and all that stuff. And we even look at the travel. Why do people travel? Now of course they travel to sit on beaches and things like that. But why do they go to Venice, one of the most inconvenient cities in the world? They go for the architecture. And they don’t go really to poke around in every one of those buildings, because half of them aren’t even available for poking around in. They go for the experience of an amazing city – canals, urbanism, architecture.
Recorded on: 12/5/07