New York–based architect and Yale architecture dean Robert A.M. Stern is the 2011 winner of the Richard H. Driehaus Prize for Classical Architecture. In announcing the award, jury chair and Notre Dame architecture dean Michael Lykoudis says, “More than any other practicing architect today, Bob Stern has brought classicism into the public realm and the mainstream of the profession, reinvigorating it for generations to come.”
The Driehaus prize was first presented in 2003 to architect and theorist Leon Krier, and the absence of Stern’s name among the winners in the intervening years has long been the subject of conversation among professionals. The wait doesn’t seem to bother Stern, who notes, “I’m joining a pantheon of friends and colleagues”—adding, apropos another Brooklyn-born intellectual, Ralph Kramden, “How sweet it is!”
While Stern has long built in traditional modes, his work is more diverse than many previous Driehaus recipients. His 15 Central Park West has been a hit in New York because of its use of brick and limestone reminiscent of other Upper West Side apartment buildings, but the 57-story Comcast Center in Philadelphia is hardly the sort or building you’d expect from Krier or Quinlan Terry, the 2005 Driehaus laureate. “Comcast is a traditional, iconic shape—an obelisk—but of our time and clad in glass,” Stern says in describing how it fits with his other work.
The $200,000 prize remains architecture’s largest prize to an individual—double that of the more established Pritzker Architecture Prize. “Quantities count,” Stern says. “I intend to give mine to Yale, where it will further the study of classicism.”
The award will be formally presented at a ceremony in Chicago on March 26, 2011.