Robert Stern’s (Famous Architect)New Memoir And Some Gossip Between Two Divas

Architectural Record
Architectural Time Travel in Robert A.M. Stern’s New Memoir
Review: “Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture,” by Robert A.M. Stern with Leopoldo Villardi
By Thomas Fisher
July 11, 2022

Look Familiar? Streisand and Midler
<strong><em>Looks Familiar Streisand and Midler<em><strong>

In the second half of the book, Stern recounts the stories behind much of RAMSA’s enormous body of work. While that goes on a bit long, it reveals how much architecture is really a story of architects’ relationships with their clients. Consider Stern’s interaction with the Eisner family. He designed an apartment for Maggie and Lester Eisner in New York in the mid-1970s. During that project, Stern met their young son, Michael, who later in 1984 became the CEO of Disney. In 1986, Michael saw the Pride of Place series, conceived for PBS by Mobil executive Herbert Schmertz, for whom Stern had renovated a house in 1980. Eisner liked the TV series and was spurred in 1987 to hire RAMSA to design the Walt Disney World Casting Center in Florida. This led to other commissions, including three hotels at Walt Disney World, two at Euro Disney, and one at Tokyo Disneyland, and the Disney-developed town, Celebration, co-planned with Cooper Robertson. Many wonder how architects propel their careers: Stern shows that satisfying residential clients can lead to much larger things.

The truly fascinating aspect of this memoir lies in the ringside seat it gives readers to the rise and evolution of Postmodern architecture and to the architects and critics who played important parts in that story. The book describes the crucial roles that Paul Rudolph performed as an inspirational educator, Vincent Scully as an insightful provocateur, and Philip Johnson as a loyal mentor and eventual promoter of Postmodernism. And it is full of odd occurrences along the way, such as the time that Barbra Streisand and Stern were driving to see a property on which Streisand wanted to build a house. Her interest in having Stern do the design definitely cooled after she found only Bette Midler tapes in Stern’s glove compartment. Hah!

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