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Robert A.M. Stern
Text by Michael Calderone
Photography by Naila Ruechel

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In his late 60s, the renowned Robert Stern shows no signs of slowing down. That’s not surprising, considering the many hats he wears: overseeing a highly successful, 300-person firm in Manhattan, serving as the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, writing books, giving lectures, visiting work sites, and simply sketching his newest ideas. Academically, the young architect was a standout, receiving degrees from both Columbia University and Yale, the latter where he was mentored by the renowned Vincent Scully. Then, graduating in 1965, one of Stern’s first jobs was as a junior designer in the studio of another up-and-coming architect: Richard Meier. Since branching out on his own 38 years ago, Stern has embarked on one of the most prolific-and varied-careers in contemporary architecture. His firm’s projects have included a Federal Courthouse in Virginia, buildings at Harvard and University of Virginia, and numerous luxury condominiums, such as 10 Rittenhouse Square, overlooking historic Philadelphia. Whether designing a penthouse in the sky for a high-powered CEO or an academic building, Stern’s process is remarkably similar to decade’s earlier-making preliminary sketches and sculpting clay. “I don’t even know how to use a word processor,” says Stern, “or what do you call that, a laptop!” Of course, he understands the computer’s power in today’s architecture world, and his remarkable team is well versed in the latest technology. Nevertheless, if there’s one piece of advice that the celebrated architect still hopes to offer the next generation of architects, its that they do “not lose contact with making things with their hands, looking with their eyes. My mantra as an educator is that while you must always go forward and take advantage of new situations that come to us as architects; we don’t need to cast away what we have already learned,” said Stern. “The past must teach us.”

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