The dean of the Yale School of Architecture—and the unofficial dean of the architecture profession—Stern also heads up the private practice that bears his name, Robert A.M. Stern Architects.
After graduating from the Yale School of Architecture in 1965, Brooklyn-born Stern worked for Richard Meier before teaming up with Yale classmate John Hagmann to form Stern & Hagmann in 1969. Stern ditched his partner eight years later to go out on his own, and spent much of his early career working on high-end residences. These days he continues to handle high-profile residential contracts, but he's also branched out with a long list of commercial, museum, hotel, and condo commissions. After working on then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner's mansion in Los Angeles, Eisner tapped him to design Disney's Yacht and Beach Club resorts in Orlando in 1990, and later the Disney Board Walk at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disney Ambassador Hotel in Tokyo. Stern was also responsible for the 1992 master plan for the redesign of Times Square, another project in which Disney had a hand. Other standouts on his CV include master plans for Georgetown and Bryn Mawr; a number of luxury rental buildings for Stephen Ross's Related, including Tribeca Green and Tribeca Park; and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. Stern signed on as the dean of Yale's architecture school in 1998.
While he was initially associated with a playful, postmodernist aesthetic, as Stern has grown older—and as his business has grown larger—he's become known as an architectural chameleon, designing new buildings that fit in seamlessly with their surroundings and give the impression they've been there forever. He recently finished up work on what will likely go down as his masterpiece, the residential apartment building 15 Central Park West, which was developed by Arthur and William Lie Zeckendorf. For the most luxurious building erected in Manhattan since the San Remo, 834 Fifth, and 960 Fifth went up between World Wars I and II, Stern used Indiana limestone (the ultra-rare stone that was used to construct 740 Park and the Empire State Building) for the façade, and incorporated a handful of unheard-of, extravagant flourishes: Apartments come with private wine cellars in the basement and the lobby has a waiting room especially for chauffeurs. Given its pedigree and amenities, it wasn't altogether surprising when the building sold out months before its opening: Sandy Weill, Sting, Denzel Washington, Dan Och, Norman Lear, Lloyd Blankfein, Bob Costas, and Dan Loeb are all new residents.
Stern has a handful of local projects currently underway, including the Museum of African Art on 110th Street, a redesign of the Kaufman Center on West 67th Street, yet another Related development, the Superior Ink Condominums and Tower in the West Village. Outside the city, he's nearing completion on the Comcast Center, a 57-story mixed-use tower in Philadelphia, and in August 2007 he was selected to design the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Of course, he continues to serve as the dean of Yale's School of Architecture. Over the course of his decade-long tenure, he's implemented a widely-praised new curriculum as well as lured a collection of world-famous architects to serve as faculty members, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Richard Rogers.
Stern is a leading authority on New York architectural history. He's written a series of weighty tomes: New York 1880, New York 1900, New York 1930 (shortlisted for a National Book Award), New York 1960, New York 2000, as well as books like Robert A.M. Stern: Homes and Gardens.
For the record
That A.M. stands for Arthur Morton, in case you were wondering.
Stern is married to his second wife. With his first wife, photographer Lynn Stern, he has a son named Nicholas, who now works in the construction industry. Stern lives in on the Upper West Side, in the fabled building 101 Central Park West.