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Robert McCarter

Robert McCarter is a practicing architect, professor of architecture, and author. He is the Ruth and Norman Moore Professor of Architecture at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. From 1991-2007, he was professor of architecture, and for ten years he was director of the School of Architecture, both at the University of Florida. From 1986-1991, he was associate professor and assistant dean at the Graduate School of Architecture, Columbia University, New York. He was visiting critic at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam; he was appointed the Fay Jones School of Architecture Visiting Professor at the University of Arkansas; he has taught a masterclass at the IUAV University of Venice School of Architecture with Juhani Pallasmaa; he was appointed as the Frederic Lindley Morgan Distinguished Professor of Architectural Design at the University of Louisville; he has taught as visiting studio critic at North Carolina State University; and he has been appointed as a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome on three occasions. During his 36 years in academia, including 17 years in leadership roles at three institutions, McCarter has taught at least one design studio every semester, and he has taught more than 2,000 students. He coordinated the architecture lecture series at Columbia University (1986-1991), University of Florida (1991-2005), and Washington University in St. Louis (2007-2012, 2018-present). He invited Wang Shu to lecture in February 2012, the lecture taking place only two days after Wang was announced as the 2012 Pritzker Prize winner; “Someone at Washington University in St. Louis just hit the lecture jackpot,” is the way Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune described this event.

McCarter has practiced architecture continuously since he began his internship in 1977, and has been a licensed architect since 1982. A total of twenty-five buildings have been constructed to his designs. From 1991-2007, he was president of D-Mc2 Architecture, P. A., in Tioga, Florida, during which time his firm had twelve buildings constructed to their designs. He has his own architectural practice in St. Louis, Robert McCarter, Architect.

McCarter has an extensive bibliography and is currently undertaking research in preparation for writing monographs and essays on a number of contemporary and modern architects, including Kashef Chowdhury, Wiel Arets, Alfonso Architects, and Robert Ernest, Architect.

McCarter was selected as one of the “Ten Best Educators” in American schools of architecture in the education issue of Architect magazine, December 2009. In 2018, he was selected to be one of 71 participants in the International Curated Exhibit of Freespace: The 16th Biennale of Architecture in Venice, Italy, by the curators, Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Among other awards and honors, McCarter was a Juror for the Piranesi European Architecture Prize in 2009 in Piran, Slovenia; two books he authored, Louis I. Kahn and On and By Frank Lloyd Wright, were finalists for the inaugural Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) International Book Awards, 2006; he received the Rotch Foundation Traveling Studio Award in 2003 (one of only ten awarded nationally), with which he took a graduate studio to Finland; in 1989, he received a Graham Foundation Grant in support of his work on Frank Lloyd Wright; and while a post-professional graduate student, he was awarded first prize in the SOM Traveling Fellowship National Design Competition in 1983.

Research Statement

As a practicing architect, professor, and author, Robert McCarter analyzes architecture as it is experienced by the inhabitant, with particular emphasis on the occupation of interior space, the methods and materials of construction, and their interrelationship. In the overwhelming majority of existing architectural studies, critical events in the history of architecture, and the buildings that embody them, have most often been scripted in stylistic or purely formal terms. Yet in order to make an appropriate and comprehensive analysis of architecture, another definition is required—a definition much less concerned with style and form, and much more concerned with the tradition of building and the making of places. In this understanding, architecture is concerned much less with what a building looks like, and much more with how its spaces are ordered, with how it is built, and how these affect what is experienced by those who inhabit it. It is this comprehensive analysis of the experience of inhabitation, and of the design process that leads to its realization in architecture—the beginning and the end of architectural design—that has been the focus of McCarter’s teaching, research, and scholarly publications.

Featured Publication

Louis I. Kahn (1901-74) was one of the most important architects of the twentieth century, and his work remains a fundamental source of enquiry and inspiration for contemporary practitioners and aficionados alike. The book features both built and unbuilt projects, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in New York realized forty years after Kahn’s death. Each of the architect’s major buildings is analyzed, beginning with the design process, followed by methods and materials of construction, and closing with a “walk-though” of the spaces themselves. The projects are extensively illustrated with architectural drawings, archival as well as new photography, and original sketches that convey the spirit and qualities that led to the finished design. This updated monograph is the indispensable reference work on this renowned architect, and the definitive record of Kahn’s life work.

Publication Details
Revised and expanded 2nd edition
Author: Robert McCarter
Phaidon Press
528 pages
ISBN: 1838663045

Gray book cover of Modern Architecture and the Lifeworld: Essays in Honor of Kenneth Frampton. The type is white and orange; a rendering of a staircase to a second-story landing can be seen in the background.

Modern Architecture and the Lifeworld: Essays in Honor of Kenneth Frampton

Thames & Hudson, 2020; co-editor.
Cover of Place Matters, featuring a contemporary, multistory glass-and-stone building by WG Clark

Place Matters: The Architecture of WG Clark

ORO, 2019; author.
Cover of Grafton Architects, featuring three trapezoids—two in shades of gray, one more of a cream color.

Grafton Architects

Phaidon Press, 2018; author.
Cover of The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic, featuring a photo of two homes at dusk.

The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic

Thames & Hudson, 2017; author.
Cover of The Space Within, with a black-and-white drawing of an interior space with steps and a curved ceiling.

The Space Within

Reaction Books, 2016; author.
Cover of Marcel Breuer, featuring a couple of subdivided, white rectangles against a brown, granulated background

Marcel Breuer

Phaidon Press, 2016; author.
Cover of Steven Holl, featuring a largely black background with a square featuring a black background and 3D, serpentine white object

Steven Holl

Phaidon Press, 2015; author.
Cover of Aldo van Eyck, with a two-tone orange and black photo of the interior of a building with impressive columns and globe lights hanging down from the ceiling at different heights.

Aldo van Eyck

Yale University Press, 2015; author.
Cover of Herman Hertzberger, featuring the interior of a building with a multi-level staircase, featuring wood steps and light brick surroundings.

Herman Hertzberger

nai010, 2015; author.
Cover of Aalto, with a bright royal blue background and white type plus two white objects with curved surfaces.

Alvar Aalto

Phaidon Press, 2014; author.
Cover of Carlo Scarpa, featuring an exterior photo of a walkway leading to a stone building.

Carlo Scarpa

Phaidon Press, 2013; author.
Cover of Louis I. Kahn, featuring a dark background with a multi-hued red rectangle and other red, angled shape.

Louis I. Kahn

Phaidon, 2005; author.
Cover of Understanding Architecture, with a blue-gray background with white 3D linework and red circles over the top.

Understanding Architecture: A Primer on Architecture as Experience

Phaidon, 2012; co-author with Juhani Pallasmaa.
Cover of Frank Lloyd Wright, featuring a bronze cover with embossed title type.

Frank Lloyd Wright

Phaidon, 1997; author.
Cover of local architecture, featuring three exterior photos of buildings.

Local Architecture

Princeton Architectural Press, 2015; editor.
Cover of Weil Arets, with a black background and bronze and light yellow type.

Wiel Arets: Autobiographical References

Birkhauser, 2012; author.
Cover of Frank Lloyd Wright, with a charcoal gray cover and orange detailing

Frank Lloyd Wright

Reaktion, 2006; author.
Cover of On and By Frank Lloyd Wright, featuring a gray and white swirl pattern.

On and By Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer

Phaidon, 2005; editor and co-author.
Cover of Romo Razionalista, Roberto Caracciolo, featuring orange, gray, and orange triangles and burgundy, gold, gray, and red lettering.

Romo Razionalista, Roberto Caracciolo

AAM, 2006; main essay.
Cover of Building Machines, Pamphlet Architecture 12, featuring a black and white gear-like illustration with an orange bar at the bottom.

Building Machines, Pamphlet Architecture 12

PAP, 1987; editor.
Cover of Four Florida Moderns, with a blue background an white geometric feature to the left.

Four Florida Moderns

Norten, 2010; lead essay.
Cover of William Morgan, featuring a photo looking out of a building past an infinity pool to the waterfront.

The Master Architect Series IV: William Morgan

Images, 2002; author.

Works by Robert McCarter

Exterior facade of a single-story white home.

Iwata House

Gainesville, Florida, exterior.
Interior display of three shelving units holding art glass, in front of floor to ceiling windows.

Iwata House

Art glass display, living room.
Exterior facade of a two-story home with gray brick and large windows, plus palm trees in front.

Knowles House

Gainesville, Florida, exterior.
Photo of a living room, featuring a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows with a few panes across them, plus an open staircase.

Knowles House

Living room.
Exterior facade of an L-shaped home with multiple banks of windows across both sides, and a huge tree in front.

D-Mc2 House

Gainesville, Florida, exterior.
Photo of a living room with wood shelves holding artwork and white built-ins above it with an artwork in the middle; windows are on both sides.

D-Mc2 House

Living room.
Photo from the interior of the home looking outside through a blank of floor-to-ceiling, paned windows, looking out on a tree in the yard.

D-Mc2 House

View to tree.
Interior view of a home's living room and loggia with white walls and beam-like columns and light wood cabinets.

Dunne House

Living room and loggia.
Interior view of a living area with paned, tall windows across the two cornered walls.

Dunne House

Louis I. Kahn (Phaidon, 2022)
Modern Architecture and the Lifeworld: Essays in Honor of Kenneth Frampton (Thames & Hudson, 2020)
Place Matters: The Architecture of WG Clark (ORO, 2019)
Grafton Architects (Phaidon Press, 2018)
The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic (Thames & Hudson, 2017)
The Space Within: Interior Experience as the Origin of Architecture (Reaktion Books, 2016)
Marcel Breuer (Phaidon Press, 2016)
Steven Holl (Phaidon Press, 2015)
Aldo van Eyck (Yale University Press, 2015)
Herman Hertzberger (nai010, 2015)
Local Architecture, with Brian MacKay-Lyons (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015)
Alvar Aalto (Phaidon Press, 2014)
Carlo Scarpa (Phaidon Press, 2013)
Wiel Arets: Autobiographical References (Birkhauser, 2012)
Understanding Architecture: A Primer on Architecture as Experience, with Juhani Pallasmaa (Phaidon Press, 2012)
Frank Lloyd Wright: Critical Lives (Reaktion Books, 2006), translated into five languages
Louis I. Kahn (Phaidon Press, 2005), translated into two languages
On and By Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer of Architectural Principles (Phaidon Press, 2005)
William Morgan: Selected and Current Works (Images Press, 2002)
Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, 1997)
Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, 1997)
Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, 1994)
Editing and essay contributions
Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer on Architectural Principles (Princeton Architectural Press, 1991)
Constructions: Studio Work from the University of Florida (University of Florida, 1993)
ABSTRACT 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91 (Columbia University, 1987-91)
Building: Machines – Pamphlet Architecture 12 (Princeton Architectural Press, 1987)
Articles and chapters appearing in publications
The Encyclopedia of 20th Century Architecture
The Oxford Companion to United States History
The Great Builders
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics
L'architrave, le plancher, la plate-bande
A New History of Construction, Volume II
Carlo Scarpa: Visions in Glass, 1926-1962
50 Key Thinkers on the Environment
Kashef Chowdhury: A Glass Labyrinth in Venice
Environmental Modernism: The Architecture of Max Strang
Shadow Patterns: Reflections on Fay Jones and his Architecture
Dreams of Venice Architecture
Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand
Wendell Burnett: Dialogues in Space
The Architecture of Alfred Browning Parker
The Limits of Form: Enrique Norten TEN Arquitectos
The Architecture of Mark Hampton
A Living Tradition: KPF Arkitekter
Common Places: Brian Healy
Dean-Wolf Architects: Constructive Continuum
Allied Works Architecture: Clyfford Still Museum
Ghost: Building an Architectural Vision
Archipelago: Essays on Architecture
Roma Razionalista: Roberto Caracciolo
Constructed Reality: The Architecture of Tanner Leddy Maytum Stacy
Concrete Places in a Landscape of Illusions: The Architecture of Donald Singer
Frank Lloyd Wright: Windows of the Darwin Martin House
Four Florida Moderns
Masters of Concrete
Articles and chapters appearing in journals
Journal of Visual Culture
Journal of Architectural Education
The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
The Atlantic Monthly
Investors’ Business Daily
The American Scholar
Progressive Architecture
Vorkurs Vols. I, II, and III
(University of Florida School of Architecture Graduate Student Publication)
Theology Today
Articles and chapters in international journals
Architectural Research (Slovenia)
ZARCH (Spain)
Ptah: Architecture Design Art (Finland)
Eesti Ekspress (Estonia)
Global Architecture: Houses (Japan)
Architektur & Bauforum (Austria)
Bauwelt (Germany)
Form (Sweden)
Icon (UK)
The Senses and Society (Canada)
Hise (Slovenia)
Betong (Sweden)
Global Danish Architecture (Denmark)
TC Cuadernos (Spain)
Architecture Today (UK)
Ehituskuust (Estonia)
Architect’s Bulletin (Slovenia)
Progetti (Italy)
Concrete International