Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, Awarded 2017 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion

Highest honor bestowed upon educator in architecture

Washington, D.C. – December 8, 2016 – The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) named Robert A.M. Stern, FAIA, as the 2017 AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion recipient.  The AIA/ACSA Topaz Medallion honors an individual who has been intensely involved in architecture education for more than a decade and whose teaching has influenced a broad range of students. Through his buildings, teachings, and prolific writing, Stern, has demonstrated that architecture can be powerful and inspiring by bringing time-honored forms and proportions to bear on a modern world.

Stern’s commitment to architecture education began in his own days as a student. In 1965, as a master’s candidate at Yale, he edited a double issue of the school’s architecture journal, Perspecta, which featured excerpts of Robert Venturi’s seminal Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (ahead of the book’s publication), as well as essays by Philip Johnson and the architectural historian Vincent Scully. His talents as a writer, editor, and historian have followed the entirety of his 50-year career and Stern has penned a number of books, most notably his series that surveys the last 100 years of New York City’s architectural heritage and was hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as “an unprecedented record.”

After opening his own practice in 1969, Stern returned to his alma mater Columbia University as a lecturer and taught at the school consistently for more than 20 years while holding a number of additional posts. When he accepted the position of dean at Yale, Stern stuck to the university’s tradition of open-minded debate and implemented a non-stop schedule of visiting professors, exhibitions, and symposia that attracted many of architecture’s brightest minds to the school.

Yale’s program seeks to present students with every opportunity, and Stern has stressed availability of digital applications while still reinforcing the importance of drawing and hand-built models. With his advocacy and fundraising leadership, he led the $126 million restoration and renovation of Paul Rudolph’s Art & Architecture Building by commissioning Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. His legacy at Yale has been documented extensively through the publication of catalogs for all 50 exhibitions hung at the Yale School of Architecture Gallery during his tenure as dean, the school’s biannual journal, Constructs, and the 2016 publication of Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale.

True to his role as a steward of architectural education, Stern’s firm, the 300-person strong Robert A.M. Stern Architects, functions as an extraordinary teaching institution. Intentionally designed to provide a first-rate apprenticeship that is not simply a byproduct of the firm’s practice, the experience in the office has propelled many of its alumni to excellence.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit


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