Among practicing architects today, perhaps only Robert A. M. Stern once contemplated a career as a historian, an interest that has informed both his built work and his writings. Tradition and Invention in Architecture brings together 26 of Stern's essays and conversations from the past five decades. Topics range from modern classicism, American housing, gardens, and New York City to the work of Norman Foster, Louis Kahn, Charles Moore, and Robert Moses. Reminders of Stern's own broad career in architecture are found in his thoughts on his PBS television series Pride of Place, his discussion of the planning of Seaside and Celebration, Florida, and his view on institutional branding through architecture.
Known as much for his candor as for his profound knowledge of American architecture, Stern's observations on the architecture of his time are equally valuable. As he writes, "For an architect, writing is one way of reconsidering history while working in the present-always in search of the best from the past and the present, which allows us to invent for the future."
Robert A. M. Stern, founder and senior partner of Robert A. M. Stern Architects, is dean of the Yale School of Architecture. Cynthia Davidson is editor of the journal Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City.