Robert A M Stern: The limestone jesus

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“Buildings should not look like Lady Gaga. I think it is much more exciting to enter into a dialogue with the past” says the acclaimed American architect Robert A.M. Stern in this video presenting ‘The Limestone Jesus’-building, 15 Central Park West in New York.

“The city is made up of background buildings and foreground buildings”, Stern says echoing observations from his teacher Paul Rudolph who said that “modern architects are great in making one off buildings that would stand by themselves and celebrate themselves, but they have not learned how to make background buildings”. Stern calls 15 Central Park West “a gigantic articulated wall of structures not a series of twisting and turning isolated thing”. The name ‘Limestone Jesus’ comes from the fact that the building is constructed with limestone bricks.

“We have lots of silly buildings being built, in my opinion. The buildings should not look like Lady Gaga”, Stern states. The Limestone Jesus keeps such incredible prices for apartments, Stern is very happy about this, he says. “First of all I want my clients to be able to enjoy the success but for me the building was about an idea, not a real estate idea but an architectural idea or a couple of architectural ideas one of which was to fill out the wall of Central Park West. If you look at Central Park West from an apartment at the 5. Avenue, you will see that it is an amazing wall, if the Broadway Musicals want to show a New York backdrop they would depict in some form or another that wall”.

Robert A.M. Stern (b.1939) is considered a representative of New Urbanism and is mentioned to be one of the first architects to use the term ‘post modernism’.
“Almost every building that is new has a built-in history. We are architects that build on the shoulders of the past.

I think is is much more exciting to enter into a dialogue with the past and also to take things from the past and restudy them, their theme and variation. Architecture is made up of many languages in my view and if we have a modern language that is evolved but it doesn’t mean that the other languages can’t also continue to be spoken”.

Robert A.M. Stern was interviewed by Jesper Bundgaard/ Out of Sync, in New York City in 2014.
Camera & edit: Per Henriksen, Out of Sync
Produced by Out of Sync & Christian Lund 2014.
Copyright by Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014.
Supported by Nordea-fonden