Robert A.M. Stern on Whether a Building Has to Interact With Its Environment

Question: Does a building have to interact with its environment?

Stern: Well I don’t think any building can be self-contained flat out. Even if you build . . . Or maybe especially if you build on an open site in a rural setting, then you really have to engage with the landscape. And I think more and more architects are coming to realize how fundamental the landscape quotient is in the overall conception of what architecture is. Landscape architecture and landscape . . . and architecture and building architecture are two things that need to be seen in some sort of intimate relationship. In city settings, of course, where there were existing buildings before – and even though the buildings may not always be there; they may evolve and change to other buildings – I think it’s very important that you design a building that is accommodative of the other buildings around. And lastly – this is probably too long an answer, but most importantly – is how the building confronts or addresses the public realm in a city like New York. The street – is it friendly, and welcoming, and open? And that can be done in many ways, but it’s very important that that . . . that buildings not draw back and create veils or walls of closure.

Recorded on: 12/5/07

No building can be self-contained, says Stern.

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