Robert A.M. Stern ARC ’65, who is the J.M. Hoppin professor of architecture and former dean of the Yale School of Architecture, will receive the prestigious Andrée Putman Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2021.
This award will be presented to him by the Créateurs Design Awards, or CDA, an organization that celebrates accomplishments in architecture, interior and product design, journalism and photography.
“Mr. Stern has created landmarks and shaped skylines while transforming people’s lives by inspiring an entire generation of future professionals. His legacy is one that shall live on for many generations to come,” said Yuri Xavier, who founded the CDA Awards.
Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said that Stern’s accomplishments lie in three distinct areas: as an accomplished practicing architect, an architectural and urban historian and an educator.
Upon graduating from college, Stern founded his own company titled “Robert A.M. Stern Architects” in 1965. He initially established his firm’s presence by building private homes. By the 1990s, he was partnering with Walt Disney on numerous projects. Stern designed Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort and the Feature Animation Building for the Walt Disney Company. Since then, Stern’s designs have fundamentally altered the American urban landscape and left a lasting mark on postmodern architecture.
Some of Stern’s other notable projects include a clapboard structure housing the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts, the Mediterranean-themed Celebration Health building, Jacksonville Public Library in Florida, the Museum Center for the Mark Twain House in Connecticut and the Heart of Lake residential community in Xiamen, China.
Stern designed Yale’s two new residential colleges — Benjamin Franklin College and Pauli Murray College. Stern aimed to situate Pauli Murray and Benjamin Franklin between convention and invention. The colleges combine Yale’s traditional Gothic-revival architectural style — first introduced to Yale by architect James Gamble Rogers, class of 1889 — with modern facilities.
Stern has written several books on the topics of urbanism and architecture and hosted a BBC show on the subject. His books include “40 Under 40: Young Talent in Architecture” and “New Directions in American Architecture.” Stern has received numerous awards for his work in education and architecture, including the Topaz Medallion, awarded by the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, and the Vincent Scully prize.
As a postmodern architect, Stern is deeply attuned to both pop culture and tradition. His constructions for The Walt Disney Company, though modern in both purpose and design, are steeped in tradition. For example, Disney’s Boardwalk Resort represents a variety of architectural styles, including relics from the 1920s — an ice cream parlor, a piano bar and a carousel.
Joel Sander, a professor at the School of Architecture, said that Stern’s rare ability to make academic scholarship accessible has made him an impactful influencer. Sanders referenced Stern’s 1986 PBS TV series “Pride of Place: Building the American Dream,” and influential encyclopedic book series “New York 1880-2000” as examples.
Sander added that Stern has not only devoted himself to studying American architecture and urbanism, but has used architectural history as “a tool to advocate for the preservation of significant American landmark buildings and neighborhoods.”
“[Stern] is someone who wants to share his knowledge and challenge new generations of architects,” said Xavier. “There is a nobility as well as a genuine dedication to his craft and teaching throughout his career.”
Annie Radillo | firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the attribution of a quote from Xavier, which was previously attributed to Karen Franco of CDA.