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