Robert A. M. Stern

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For other people named Robert Stern, see Robert Stern (disambiguation).
Robert A. M. Stern
Robert A. M. Stern at the Historic Districts Council's Landmarks Lion awards in 2015
Born (1939-05-23) May 23, 1939 (age 77)
Brooklyn, New York City, USA
Nationality American
Alma mater Columbia University
Yale University
Occupation Architect
Children Nicholas S. G. Stern
Parent(s) Sonya Cohen Stern
Sydney Stanley Stern
Awards Driehaus Architecture Prize

Robert Arthur Morton Stern, usually credited as Robert A. M. Stern (born May 23, 1939), is a New York City and New Haven based American architect, professor, and academic writer. He previously served as the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. He also heads his own architecture firm, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, often referred to as RAMSA.

Stern is a representative of New Urbanism[1] and New Classical Architecture, with a particular emphasis on urban context and the continuity of traditions. He may have been the first architect to use the term "postmodernism,"[2] but more recently he has used the phrase "Modern traditionalist" to describe his work. In 2011, Stern was honored with the renowned Driehaus Architecture Prize for his achievements in contemporary classical architecture. Some of his firm's major works include New York City's new classical 15 Central Park West, 20 East End Avenue and the late modern Comcast Center skyscraper in Philadelphia.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Stern was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939. Stern received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University in 1960 and a master's degree in architecture from Yale University in 1965. Stern has cited Vincent Scully and Philip Johnson as early mentors and influences.[4]


Immediately after leaving Yale, Stern was employed as a curator by the Architectural League of New York, a job he gained through a connection with Philip Johnson. While at the League, he organized the second 40 Under 40 show, which featured the work of then-unknown architects Charles Moore, Robert Venturi, and Romaldo Giurgola, as well as his own work. Upon leaving the Architectural League, Stern worked as a designer in the office of Richard Meier in 1966. Three years later, he established Stern & Hagmann with a fellow student from his days at Yale, John S. Hagmann.[5] In 1977 he founded its successor firm, Robert A. M. Stern Architects, also known as RAMSA.[5] Stern continues to work for RAMSA today, and has indicated he does not plan to retire.

Stern has been dean of the Yale School of Architecture since 1998.[6] Previously, he was professor at Columbia University, in the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. He was also director of Columbia's Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture from 1984 to 1988.[6]

Other activities[edit]

Stern is known for his academic work concerning American architectural history. In 1986, he hosted “Pride of Place: Building the American Dream,” an eight-part documentary series which aired on PBS. The series featured Peter Eisenman, Leon Krier, Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry, and other notable architects. "Pride of Place" was well received by the public, although other architects disliked it.[7] He has also written extensively about American architecture, especially that of New York City, having published five volumes about the city's architectural history, each focusing on a different decade or period.

Many of Stern's early non-residential scale commissions were for Walt Disney World, including Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Disney's Beach Club Resort, and the plan for Celebration, Florida. He later served on the board of the Walt Disney Company from 1992-2003.[2][8]


Many of Stern's early works were private homes in the New York metropolitan area, including in the Hamptons and Westchester County.[5] However, Stern is perhaps best known for his large-scale condominium and apartment building projects in New York City, which include 15 Central Park West, 20 East End Avenue, The Chatham, and The Brompton. 15 Central Park West was, at the time of its completion, one of the most financially successful apartment buildings ever constructed, with sales totaling USD 2 billion.[9]

Stern has designed some of the tallest structures in the United States. Early in his career, he expressed interest in designing skyscrapers, a departure from his work at the time, which was primarily pastoral in context and residential in scale.[5] Stern's tallest structures include the Comcast Center, the tallest building in both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.[10] The building, clad in glass (rather than Stern's typical limestone) was described by the Driehaus Prize committee as "[carrying] forward the proportions of the classical obelisk".[11] The building, along with 15 Central Park West, and his plan for Celebration, Florida, were cited as motivation for his winning the award.

More recently, Stern has designed three skyscrapers in New York City. The buildings, 220 Central Park South, 520 Park Avenue, and 30 Park Place, will all be among the tallest buildings in the city and the United States upon completion.[12][13][14]


In his early career, Stern developed a reputation as a postmodern architect for the classical elements he integrated into modern buildings.[15]

Although his designs are eclectic, Stern's designs have become associated with the New Classical architectural movement because they reinterpret traditional building techniques and forms.[16] Stern has rejected the association, arguing that his projects draw on vernacular context and local traditions.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Stern owns an apartment in The Chatham, a building he designed in New York City.[18] He has one son, Nicholas S. G. Stern, and three grandchildren. His son manages boutique construction and planning firm Stern Projects.[19][20] Stern professes to be apolitical, but voted for Bush before designing the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, a fact that helped him gain the commission.[21]



A selection of books written and co-written by Stern:

  • New Directions in American Architecture (1969)
  • George Howe : Toward a Modern American Architecture (1975)
  • New York 1900 : Metropolitan Architecture and Urbanism 1890–1915 (1983)
  • New York 1930 : Architecture and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars (1987)
  • Modern Classicism (1988)
  • New York 1960 : Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial (1997)
  • New York 1880 : Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age (1999)
  • New York 2000 : Architecture and Urbanism Between the Bicentennial and the Millennium (2006)
  • The Philip Johnson Tapes : Interviews by Robert A.M. Stern (2008)
  • Paradise Planned : The Garden Suburb and the Modern City (2013)


  1. ^ "Robert A. M. Stern: The Limestone Jesus". The Huffington Post. May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Zukowsky, John. "Robert A. M. Stern (American architect)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Projects". 12 May 2015. 
  4. ^ "Who are you Robert Stern?". Big Think. February 21, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Stern, Robert A. M. (1981). Peter Arnell, ed. Robert A. M. Stern 1965-1980. Ted Bickford. New York, NY: Rizzoli. 
  6. ^ a b "Robert A.M. Stern". Yale University. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Stern, Robert A. M. (1 November 2005). "Robert A. M. Stern". Perspecta. The MIT Press. 37: 50–57. 
  8. ^ "Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA". RAMSA. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Goldberger, Paul (1 September 2008). "King of Central Park West". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Comcast Center". RAMSA. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Robert A.M. Stern". Driehaus Architecture Prize (Notre Dame University). 2011. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Reid (28 December 2015). "54-Story, 33-Unit Residential Tower Rises At 520 Park Avenue, Upper East Side". YIMBY. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Fedak, Nikolai (28 January 2016). "Final Renderings for 220 Central Park South Show Slight Design Changes". YIMBY. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  14. ^ Fedak, Nikolai (7 October 2013). "30 Park Place Set to Resume Construction". YIMBY. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  15. ^ Davidson, Justin (November 3, 2013). "Unfashionably Fashionable". New York Magazine. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  16. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (December 16, 2007). "Building Respect at Yale". New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  17. ^ Marino, Vivian (June 29, 2012). "The 30-Minute Interview: Robert A.M. Stern". Retrieved April 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ Marino, Vivian. "The 30-Minute Interview Robert A.M. Stern". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Marino, Vivian (5 November 2013). "Nicholas S. G. Stern". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  20. ^ Alden, William (25 August 2010). "Postmodern Son: Nicholas S. G. Stern Steps Out on His Own". Observer. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  21. ^ Lamster, Mark (21 April 2013). "Architect Robert A.M. Stern on the George W. Bush Presidential Center". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 25 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "2006 Robert A.M. Stern". Philadelphia Center for Architecture. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  23. ^ "Robert A.M. Stern". National Building Museum. 12 November 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  24. ^ Rybczynski, Witold (4 February 2009). "That Dogma Won't Hunt". Slate. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  25. ^ "Landmarks Lion Award 2015-Pride of Lions". Historic Districts Council. Retrieved 2015-12-31. 

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