Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture (Hardcover)

Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture By Robert A.M. Stern Cover Image
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"A capsule history of American architecture since 1960." - Wall Street Journal

Architect, historian, and educator Robert A.M. Stern presents a personal and candid assessment of contemporary architecture and his fifty years of practice.

Encompassing autobiography, institutional history, and lively, behind-the-scenes anecdotes, Between Memory and Invention surveys the world of architecture from the 1960s to the present, and Stern's critical role in it. By turns thoughtful, critical, and irreverent, this is a highly accessible text replete with personal insights and humor.

The author is Robert A.M. Stern, once described by Philip Johnson as "the brightest young man I have ever met in my entire teaching career," and internationally acknowledged as a leader in architecture and architectural scholarship.

Deeply committed to the concept that architects must "look to the past to build for the future," Stern is the founding partner of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the former Dean and current Hoppin Professor of Architecture at the Yale School of Architecture, and the author of more than twenty books and countless essays and commentaries on an extraordinary range of architectural and cultural topics.

Chronicling his formative years, architectural education, and half-century of architectural practice, Stern touches on influences that shaped him - his Brooklyn upbringing, family excursions to look at buildings, teachers (Paul Rudolph, the legendary Vincent Scully, and Philip Johnson among them), major projects of the firm (the new town of Celebration, Florida, restoration of Times Square and 42nd Street, George W. Bush Presidential Center), and the many clients, fellow architects, and professional partners that have peopled his extraordinary career.

Often proposed as "Mr. New York," Stern has a deep commitment to the city, to recording its past - he is the lead author of the monumental New York series, the definitive history of architecture and urbanism from the late nineteenth century to the present - and shaping its future.

Today elegant RAMSA residential towers are rising throughout Manhattan to enrich the skyline in the tradition of the luxurious apartment buildings of the 1920s and 1930s.

The text is supported by a lively mix of images drawn from Stern's personal archive, including student work and travel slides, images of architectural precedents and colleagues that have shaped his thinking, and images related to projects he discusses (drawings, plans, and finished photography, architectural team, and clients).

About the Author

Robert A. M. Stern is the founder and senior partner of Robert A. M. Stern Architects, a renowned architectural practice that encompasses residential, institutional, academic, and commercial projects nationally and internationally. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 2017 received the Topaz Medallion, awarded jointly by the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in recognition of outstanding service to architectural education. Stern is the 2011 Driehaus Prize laureate and in 2008 received the tenth Vincent Scully Prize from the National Building Museum. Stern served as Dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1998 to 2016; he was named J.M. Hoppin Professor of Architecture in 2000. A prolific writer, he is the lead author of the monumental New York series documenting the architectural and urban development of the city over the past 150 years and more than twenty other books, including Paradise Planned, The New Residential Colleges at Yale, and Pedagogy and Place.Leopoldo Villardi is an architectural historian and a research associate at Robert A. M. Stern Architects.

Praise For…

"I count Bob Stern among the few architects who have understood and embraced the messy plurality of democracy. With integrity and intelligence, he has been a formidable voice where it counts—in the built landscape. Generations of architecture students and young architects have benefited from his uncanny ability to gauge architecture’s pulse at any given moment and his commitment to opening up the conversation to all capable voices. And, admirably, he has done this with a focus on the profession and an emphasis on architecture’s real impact on the communities in which we live. His compelling new book Between Memory and Invention tells the story of his amazing journey."
—Frank Gehry

“With his signature combination of charisma, wit, and a near-photographic memory, Robert A. M. Stern has written a book about his life, about absorbing, teaching, writing, building, and enchanting his way through more than half a century of architectural culture and history. Between Memory and Invention tells us as much about what it’s like to be an architect as it is to be dedicated to something that becomes the work of a lifetime.”
—Mark Foster Gage

“Always one to take on formidable challenges, Robert A. M. Stern has written definitive histories of New York’s buildings and urbanism, led Yale’s School of Architecture, designed many of the signature (and most desired) towers of Gotham’s skyline as part of one of the world’s best respected firms, and yet has still found time to advocate for preservation, architectural education, and the careers of so many others. A prodigious storyteller, whether in print, at a lectern, or via broadcast media, Stern has always been able to keep his audience in rapt attention. Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture does just this as it richly details Stern’s truly extraordinary contributions to the built world.”
—Hilary Lewis, Chief Curator & Creative Director, The Glass House

“Robert A. M. Stern’s autobiography Between Memory and Invention is one part memoir and one part manifesto, as it traces the emergence and builds a case for ‘Modern Traditionalism.’ The world seen in retrospect by a key player on the architectural stage for the past half century offers readers with a unique perspective on the power centers of East Coast design culture—Stern illuminates some of the major venues and key debates of the 1970s and 1980s as well as the work he did as institution builder at Yale as dean, decades after his own time there as a student. For those who find their own names or pictures in the book, like myself, Stern provides a dazzling Rashomon effect that engages our own memories alongside his narrative, while scores of never-before-seen family and institutional photographs make for a fascinating visual survey of a vibrant period in architectural debate and practice. Between Memory and Invention is a page turner that takes us into the texture of each decade of American architectural culture since the 1960s.”
—Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History, Columbia University

“Worth adding to your winter reading list . . . Blending autobiography, history, and criticism, Robert A.M. Stern’s Between Memory and Invention: My Journey in Architecture provides candid reflections on the architect’s life.”

“Supported by a mix of images drawn from Stern’s own archive, this revealing memoir also reads like a candid review of architecture today.” 
—Fast Company

"For the wealth of its testimonies and documents that substantiate this story, the publication is a learned and pleasant text on the history of architecture over the last 60 years"

“Robert A. M. Stern, architect behind some of the last century’s most exquisite buildings, has conjured something remarkable once again—this time, though, it’s a riveting book. His autobiography is a thoughtful contemplation of the role of design; a serious examination of the practice of architecture that simultaneously offers dishy takes on some of the most important people who commission, practice, and critique it.” 
—Town & Country

“Robert A.M. Stern gives us a capsule history of American architecture since 1960.”
—Wall Street Journal

“His life has been wonderfully detailed in his new memoir . . . [a] richly illustrated book.”
—The Grand Tourist with Dan Rubinstein 

“Robert A. M. Stern gets candid about the world of architecture and his 50 years in the industry with this encompassing autobiography.”

“As the subtitle, "My Journey in Architecture," suggests, this is the autobiography of a career, not so much of an individual. It is also an extended essay on a philosophy of architecture, and, as such, it is of interest to buffs as well as experts.” 
—East Hampton Star

“Memoirs help make the past come alive, and that is certainly true here. Among Stern’s many accomplishments, this book may be one of his greatest yet, inventing a new genre in our field that, as a complement to architectural history, we might call architectural memory.”
—Architectural Record

“Robert A. M. Stern’s aptly titled autobiography, Between Memory and Invention, is the story of a life devoted to the redemption of the profession, a struggle to reconnect history and culture to the practice of architecture.” 
—The New Criterion

“An engaging, frank and funny read — Stern tells you what he really thinks.”
—1stdibs Introspective

“Reading this book is realizing just how much Stern's varied output has impacted the course of American architecture over the last half-century.”

“[A]nother substantial book by Stern . . . with glossy pages, lots of color photos, and plenty of footnotes. It's a life story being told like a story, from Stern's upbringing in Brooklyn to . . . the architect "passing the baton" to his fellow partners, associates, and the younger generation at RAMSA.”
—A Daily Dose of Architecture
Product Details
ISBN: 9781580935890
ISBN-10: 1580935893
Publisher: The Monacelli Press
Publication Date: December 14th, 2021
Pages: 520
Language: English

How to read more
( Birmingham Museums Trust’s Digital Image Resource shares thousands of images that span decades of Birminghams vibrant past)

How To Read More

If you love reading, but for some reason you read less and less, know that everything is fine. It happens.
Our lives today have so many things that distract us - how can we not put books away when all these movies, TV shows, YouTube videos, social networks and endless surfing in online stores are around ...
Yes, it's really hard to resist, but you certainly can!

In this article, we want to share with you some tips to read more often and more successfully.
These are some notes and some practices that we have collected for our SUNDOG BOOKS readers club.
And maybe it will bring more books into your life!

Why do we want/need to read more?

To start reading more, you have to understand why you need it.
And you will be surprised, but your goals can be quite varied:

- for work
If you read a lot on duty, then you definitely need to speed up the process. The logic here is simple: read faster → work faster → more time for books for yourself.

- for education
you need this for your educational career or sometimes you just want to read to learn. And, with all the new alternative ways to gain knowledge (podcasts, online courses and videos), the book still does an excellent job of this task too.

- for self-development
all exercises for increasing speed, one way or another, improve cognition and memory.

- for fun
because good books always = fun!

Book lovers have an additional special goal for reading more often. If you love literature, you will understand what we mean: you want to catch everything - to follow modern literature, and not forget about the classics, look into non-fiction and children's publications. And there’s so much you want to reread! The goals are ambitious, but attainable if you read a lot.


And so - How to read more:
We will tell you about the methods that we use ourselves. Perhaps some will suit you as well.


15 minutes a day

You've probably already heard this rule: if you want to start a healthy habit, devote 15 minutes a day to it. Once upon a time, we all read irregularly, in jumps and starts. Sometimes we cannot open a book we have begun weeks ago. Therefore, you should decide to create a rule: devote at least 15 minutes a day to reading. Try reading before bed, or maybe during lunchtime, or even when you are having your morning coffee.

You will see progress immediately. You will notice that almost always your 15 minutes will grow into half an hour or more. But the most remarkable thing is that in three weeks your hands themselves will be looking for a book.


50 First Pages
This method advises - If the book hasn't hooked you from the first 50 pages, put it aside! Life is too short to read uninteresting books.

It is necessary to change the approach to books. At first it will be hard for you to stop and put the book down. Even if we put the book away, it will seem to reproach us from the shelf, mocking us as quitters. But in the end we should come to one simple thought: if it doesn’t hook your attention, you should not force yourself to read it.

***Fifty pages is not a bad test. Not the most objective, but definitely effective. It helps to determine whether it interests you or not, and whether to spend time on things that do not excite.


Reader's Diary

This should be used to improve the quality of reading - to make it more conscious. For starters, it can be a simple notebook with headings:

  • Author
  • Year of publication
  • Main characters
  • Scene
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Quotes

And, yes, a reader's diary is not a thing about quantity, but about quality. But, it can also motivate. When you open your diary and start looking at quotes (especially quotes), you immediately really want to read.


Maybe a Book Bet?
Several people can participate. Members of the betting group can come from friends, family, and also your colleagues. And of course you can set your own rules for participation, but we'll give you a simple example:

Everyone in the group should read and review a book over the course of a month with weekly updates. Anyone who does not finish a review buys the book for all other participants for the next month.


Speed Reading

Another effective way to increase the amount you read is speed reading. The logic here is simple - the faster you read, the more books you can enjoy.

*There are many online courses on speed reading, and you can also study on your own using instructional books. But, it is worth noting that this is a serious learning process that will require some effort on your part.



Reading every day is quite attainable, the main thing is to try to make it a habit.
Sometimes, instead of heading for Facebook, try opening a book and soon you won’t even remember why you needed to wander around social media.
And also - don't forget about audiobooks. They are a cool way to take the load off your eyes sometimes and just immerse yourself in the story. Some books are really strong in voice acting.


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