Revolution lite: Robert A.M. Stern's design for the Museum of the American Revolution

Posted on Monday, Jun 11, 2012
Robert A.M. Stern seems to be everywhere these days. Besides running Yale University's architecture school and producing architecture tomes as fat as two-by-fours, he oversees a large and successful architecture factory in New York City that can turn out buildings in any style you need. It has been doing a big business in Philadelphia. His firm's substantial output here includes one of his finest buildings ever, the Comcast Tower, a handsome modern obelisk. He's also responsible for a truly awful one, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies on 34th Street. That dull redbrick box is decked out with plasticky-looking white windows and just enough design cues for it to claim Georgian ancestry. It should be a cautionary tale for those hoping to re-create historic styles on a modern budget, particularly in a city that knows the glory of the real thing firsthand.