Dec 07, 2016

Robert A.M. Stern Honored with AIA / ACSA Topaz Medallion for Architectural Education

Today the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) named Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, as the 2017 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion recipient. The AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has been intensely involved in architecture education for more than a decade and whose teaching has influenced a broad range of students. Through his buildings, teachings, and prolific writing, Stern has demonstrated that architecture can be powerful and inspiring by bringing time-honored forms and proportions to bear on a modern world.

Stern’s commitment to architecture education began in his own days as a student. In 1965, as a master’s candidate at Yale, he edited a double issue of the school’s architecture journal, Perspecta, which featured excerpts of Robert Venturi’s seminal Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (ahead of the book’s publication), as well as essays by Philip Johnson and the architectural historian Vincent Scully. His talents as a writer, editor, and historian have followed the entirety of his 50-year career and Stern has penned a number of books, most notably his five-volume series that documents the history of New York City's architecture and urbanism from the Civil War to the millennium and was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “an unprecedented record.”

After opening his own practice in 1969, Stern returned to his undergraduate alma mater Columbia University as a lecturer and taught at the school consistently for more than 20 years while holding a number of additional posts. When he accepted the position of dean of the Yale School of Architecture in 1998 – a post he held through June 2016 – Stern stuck to Yale's tradition of open-minded debate and implemented a non-stop schedule of visiting professors, exhibitions, and symposia that attracted many of architecture’s brightest minds to the school.

Yale’s program seeks to present students with every opportunity, and Stern stressed the power of digital applications while reinforcing the importance of hand drawing and hand-built models. With his advocacy and fundraising leadership, he led the $126 million restoration and renovation of Paul Rudolph’s Art & Architecture Building by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. His legacy at Yale has been documented extensively through the publication of catalogs for all 50 exhibitions at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery during his tenure as dean; the school’s biannual journal Constructs; and the 2016 publication of Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale.

True to his role as a steward of architectural education, Stern’s firm, the 300-person strong Robert A.M. Stern Architects, functions as an extraordinary teaching institution. Intentionally designed to provide a first-rate apprenticeship that is not simply a byproduct of the firm’s practice, the experience in the office has propelled many of its staff and alumni to excellence.

The award will be presented at a ceremony on March 24 at the ACSA Annual Meeting in Detroit and again at the April 27-29 AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. For more information, please click here.

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