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Who's in the Video

Robert A. M. Stern

Robert Stern, the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, is an American author, architect, and preservationist. Stern's buildings have something of a throwback style, and he draws inspiration from[…]

Is new technology radically improving design? Stern doesn’t think so.

Question: How is technology changing the way you work?

Stern: Well in my professional office we have all the computers and lots of the bells and whistles that are around.  I personally still make little drawings.  And I like to use sculptors modeling clay, which I was introduced to by Louis Kahn who used it.  But it goes back in the architectural terms __________ tradition in art terms in general to the tradition of sculpture.  And I like to shape things, and mush them around, and play with shapes.  But then of course we use other digital fabrication techniques or whatever.  And then I certainly realize that you can build things in extraordinary ways that you couldn’t do even 30 years ago.  So it affects me, but you know you can’t . . .  You can teach an old dog some new tricks, but you can’t teach him all new tricks.

Question: Is technology dramatically improving design?

Stern: No.  I still think the Parthenon is about way up there on the top.  So no I don’t think that in that sense.  It’s improving.  It’s made more possibilities, and it has resulted in some buildings of extraordinary beauty as any other situation has.  Frankly I think all of these glass buildings – and now I know I sound like an ancient mariner or something . . .  But producing a bland uniformity in our cities, including our city of New York, that it’s a question of how much glass is appropriate?  And I use glass as the symbol of the new technology