20 East End Avenue
Architect Robert A.M Stern
Robert A.M. Stern is one of the most renowned and prolific architects of the 20th century. Undoubtedly one of the fathers of Postmodernism—some even say it was Stern who coined the term itself—his New Classical approach to urban architecture has spawned many disciples and earned him countless awards and accolades throughout the years.
Stern earned his BA from Columbia University and his MA from the Yale School of Architecture. He founded his own firm in 1977, which has grown exponentially since its inception. Robert A.M. Stern Architects now employs 300 architects, designers and supporting staff, and has designed and created a staggering number of buildings across the globe. Stern is currently the dean at his alma mater, the Yale School of Architecture, one of—if not the most—respected and prestigious architecture schools in the world. Permanent collections of Stern’s work are on display at the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and The Denver Museum of Art, among many others. Stern has written six books and contributed pieces to numerous others, many of which focus on modern classic design and Postmodernism.
Stern is not a designer who relies on flash to gain attention. He approaches his work with a meticulous attention to detail paired with a modern slant on classic ideals and styles. His buildings are not the ones that brazenly assert themselves into your field of vision. His work is more nuanced and serves to create an atmosphere for an entire area in order to meld the past with the present. The signature look of Upper East Side condos that now seems to be a brand unto itself is a product of Stern’s distinct style. Less concerned with creating entirely new designs or redefining the practice of architecture itself, his Postmodern approach borrows from various historic forms and mixes those established styles with a unique and contemporary flair. Stern is able to capture the essence of what a building hopes to exude.
The Norman Rockwell Museum is a design of Stern’s that perfectly reflects the classic aesthetic of Rockwell's work as well as the surrounding Massachusetts landscape. The building just fits: Every detail serves a purpose, and that purpose forms a complete and fully-realized picture. Stern’s work on the Upper East Side’s neoclassical 15 Central Park West was designed to fit in and accent its older and legendary neighbors like the San Remo, the Eldorado and the Majestic while still feeling new and modern. It’s not an easy task to complement classics from another time while still remaining contemporary, but 15 Central Park West does exactly that. Such a bridge between eras pays homage to the icons of old while extending into new territory. With Stern’s newest project, 20 East End Avenue, he’s very much continuing in the style of 15 Central Park West. 20 East End Avenue strikes a very similar balance: Pre-war inspired yet strikingly modern, it offers an expansive array of 21st-century amenities. Its setback terraces mix with its traditional stone arches and gorgeous limestone facade to create a structure that fits right in with some of the most timeless Upper East Side lofts.
A good portion of New York looks the way it does because of Robert A.M. Stern. That classic, oft-imitated New York aesthetic that brims with vitality in so many Upper East Side structures can be directly tied to Stern’s designs, as can the Urbanism movement itself. As prolific as he is down-to-earth, Robert A.M. Stern is a Brooklyn native who continues to preserve and enhance the city he loves, one building at a time.