chitectural students. But Stern's devo-
tion is to his profession. "I'm an ar-
chitect first and foremost," Stern states.
Stern describes his earliest archi-
tectural ambition: to integrate the
familiar historical forms of architecture
with what he perceives as the archi-
tect's obligation to make new forms
and new statements.
But whether or not the architect says
something new is unimportant to Stern.
What matters is that the architecture
"speaks." "If the architect can't say
something new, then he can say
something familiar in a new way," Stern
Stern constantly makes analogies
between architecture and language.
Birmingham developer David
Jensen asked Robert Stern to
design the estates in the
project, Woodlynne, located in
"To be really articulate as an architect
is to raise one's voice to heights of
lyricism, to make each element, each
word resonate with meaning," Stern
That Sternian philosophy is elo-
quently spoken throughout his homes,
whether the location is East Hampton,
N.Y. Martha's Vineyard, M ass. , or
Bingham Farms, Mich., the site of the
home and the ambiance of the area
determine the direction of the
When starting a new project, Stern
looks to the region for inspiration. "If
I were to build in Baltimore, for exam-
ple, I would visit Charles Village, look
at the work of Robert Mills and study
the homes in Roland Park," he says.
In the Midwest, Stern's inspiration
comes from Frank Lloyd Wright. His re-
cent project, Woodlynne, with devel-
oper David Jensen, located in
Bingham Farms, Michigan, is also in-
fluenced by Eliel Saarinen, whose
master project is nearby Cranbrook
Jensen is developing 14 estates
ranging in price from $1 million to $2
million. Jensen said he contracted
Stern because of the architect's talent
One home in the Woodlynne project
was designated as the 1989 Detroit
Symphony Showcase Home. The
5,400-square foot home incorporates
Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style and
the same masonry and aesthetic ap-
peal as Eliel Saarinen's Cranbrook.
The terrace accentuates the natural
terrain and the beauty of the cherry
trees. This home was a major fund-
raiser for the symphony and each
room was decorated by a different
There are key compositional char-
acteristics that unite all of Stern's
homes. "I would describe (a Stern
home) in the sense of the relationship
of the house to the garden, to the site,"
Continued on Page 56
The entry foyer of a Manhattan
apartment has an intricately
patterned inlaid wood floor. The
built-in cases and niche display the
owners' collection of antique pottery.
Beyond, the living room contains
several antique pieces, including an
unusually shaped clock.
The kitchen table, projecting from the
counter, can double for eating and for
food preparation. White ceramic tile
brightens the dark wood cabinets.
Pleated shades cover the windows,
which offer a fine view of the city.
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