Five Missteps by the Vaunted Architect Robert A.M. Stern

Curbed

Few living architects have enjoyed the sort of critical acclaim and real estate success heaped on Robert A.M. Stern, the "modern traditionalist" master and dean of the Yale School of Architecture. But, the man is not without his failures, or at least some houses that he would probably rather not include in his professional portfolio. This shingled postmodern manse in Montauk, N.Y. is one such flop, at least for a man now known for the sort of timeless architecture and interiors that garner $88M sales. In fairness, this house was constructed in 1968, just three years after his graduation from architecture school and the brokerbabble credits Stern only as the "original designer." In yet another strike against it, the famous architect's name recognition hasn't been enough to get the place sold. Formerly listed for $3.5M back in 2008, the price has slipped to $2M and the listing has languished for four years without a sale. Considering the 1.3-acre, waterview lot, if the price falls any lower, this Stern could be headed for the trash heap. UPDATE: Stern's firm jumped to his defense and provided us [Warning: PDF] with this 1969 Progressive Architecture article showing the house it its original form, which Stern himself called "a kernel of an interesting house by a young architect." According to the firm, the architect had nothing to do with a couple of the houses featured after the jump. Click through to see which brokers were telling a tall tale.

↑ If the let down of the Montauk house can be chalked up to youthful inexperience and years of neglect, this lakeside home in Upstate New York provides far fewer excuses. Designed in 2001, three years into his tenure as dean at Yale, the three-bed, four-bath house is a disappointing effort from the now-established Stern knock-off based on plans featured in a 1994 issues of Life magazine. The work here is not so much bad as simply generic, so similar to the sort of Shingle-revival homes that now populate suburban subdivisions. Currently listed for $649K, this is one of the cheapest ways to acquire a Stern design, but buyers will have to contend with the remote location, some five hours from New York and Boston. UPDATE: According to a rep for Robert A.M. Stern Architects, this house might "be a muddled realization of the house plans the firm created for sale as Life magazine's 1994 Dream House," but the firm had no involvement. That means the listing agent took some liberties with the brokerbabble and was hoping the remote location wouldn't attract much attention.



↑ The boredom continues in Sequim, Wash., a small city north of Olympic National Park, where Stern was said to have designed inspired this ho-hum structure, also in 2001. The starchitect's firm certainly isn't responsible for the interiors—so the blame for the lackluster furniture and hideous carpets falls elsewhere—but the structure, particularly the rear facade and practically unfinished deck. The tacked-on exterior staircase is the least compelling feature. This is a reminder that, if one is on a budget, one should not hire one of the country's foremost architects, but simply reference him in the brokerbabble. Currently listed for $1.52M, the house does occupy a breathtaking waterfront site. UPDATE: Stern's firm reports they had absolutely no involvement with the design of this house. For shame.



↑ Stern's terraced tower at 15 Central Park West is remarkable, both as a return to the expensive limestone facades of yesteryear and as a commercial success of epic proportions, rewarding early buyers with astronomical resales, like that famous $88M record setter. But, Stern's oft forgotten One Museum Mile, on the diametrically opposite corner of Central Park at 109th and Fifth, hasn't had such an easy time of it. Yes, the exterior architecture is boring, apart from some trapezoidal windows; yes, it's disappointing that the museum slated for the lower floors is perpetually delayed; but the real sad fact here is that, in the words of a Curbed NY editor, sales have been "pathetically slow." With 28 units still up for grabs and only two-thirds of the building sold in nearly a year and a half on the market, this is no 15 Central Park West. Of course, part of the blame belongs to the far uptown location and the ambitious pricing, like this 5,000-square-foot combination, now listed for $6.8M.


↑ In 1985, Stern designed an entire subdivision of new houses in the Todt Hill neighborhood of Staten Island, most with his usual nod to the architectural past. This brick manse, listed earlier this year for $3.5M, has an attractive brick facade, modeled on some of the more unusual mansions of the Federal period. Sounds great right? Well, it could be, but Stern's design is muddled by some hideous interiors, presumably not installed by Stern or his firm. The innards are so off-putting that they distract from the oversized Greek Revival facade on the pool house and a trio of juliet balconies, two of the weakest aspects of Stern's design. Well, now that we've seen five not-so-great products of a great architect, why not click over to Stern's portfolio to see the sort of high-quality work for which his firm is so renowned.

· 17 Beach Street [Corcoran]
· World's 93rd Richest Person Buys $88M 15 CPW Penthouse [Curbed NY]
· 34 Indian Point Way [Zillow]
· ">103 E Seashore Ln [Zillow]
· 1280 Fifth Avenue [Streeteasy]
· Did Robert A.M. Stern Really Design This Hideous Mansion? [Curbed National]
· Houses [Robert A.M. Stern Architects]
· Cutout Facade [Progressive Architecture - PDF]

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