MArch, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University; Bachelor of Environmental Design, North Carolina State University
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, 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 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 30 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 1,500 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). 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. 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, and he is currently involved, in association with Alfonso Architects of Tampa, Florida, in the renovation of Le Corbusier's Atelier and Apartment, and the garage conversion of Alvar Aalto's Maison Louis Carre, both in Paris, France, among other projects.
McCarter is the author of The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects: Economy as Ethic (Thames & Hudson, 2017); The Space Within: Interior Experience as the Origin of Architecture (Reaktion, 2016); Marcel Breuer (Phaidon, 2016); Steven Holl (Phaidon, 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, 2013); Wiel Arets: Autobiographical References (Birkhauser, 2012); Understanding Architecture: A Primer on Architecture as Experience, with Juhani Pallasmaa (Phaidon, 2012); Frank Lloyd Wright: Critical Lives (Reaktion Books, London, 2006), translated into four languages; Louis I. Kahn (Phaidon Press, London, 2005), translated into two languages; On and By Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer of Architectural Principles (Phaidon Press, London, 2005); William Morgan: Selected and Current Works (Images Press, Sydney, 2002); Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, London, 1997); Unity Temple: Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, London, 1997); and Fallingwater: Frank Lloyd Wright (Phaidon Press, London, 1994). Currently at press is the book Grafton Architects (Phaidon), which he authored. He has proposed the books WG Clark Architect (Oscar Riera Ojeda); On and By Louis Kahn: A Primer on Architectural Principles, with Michael Merrill; and Painting Into Architecture (Phaidon). He is also currently undertaking research in preparation for writing monographs and essays on a number of contemporary and historical architects, including Wiel Arets, Alfonso Architects, BAK Architects, and Robert Ernest; as well as the book Contemporary Critical North American Practices (Phaidon). He edited and contributed essays to Frank Lloyd Wright: A Primer on Architectural Principles (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1991), Constructions: Studio Work from the University of Florida (University of Florida, Gainesville, 1993), ABSTRACT 1987-88, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91 (Columbia University, New York, 1987-91), and Building: Machines – Pamphlet Architecture 12 (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1987).
McCarter has had articles and chapters published in numerous professional, scholarly, and monographic publications, including 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; 50 Key Thinkers on the Environment; Wendell Burnett: Dialogues in Space; The Limits of Form: Enrique Norten TEN Arquitectos; 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; and Masters of Concrete; in professional and scholarly journals including Journal of Visual Culture; Journal of Architectural Education;Investors' Business Daily; Progressive Architecture; Vorkurs (University of Florida School of Architecture Graduate Student Publication); Contract; and Theology Today; and in international journals including Ptah: Architecture Design Art (Finland); Global Architecture: Houses (Japan); Architektur & Bauforum (Austria); Form (Sweden); The Senses and Society (Canada); Hise (Slovenia); Betong (Concrete, Sweden); Global Danish Architecture (Denmark); Architecture Today (UK); Ehituskuust (Estonia); Architect's Bulletin (Slovenia); Progetti (Italy); and Concrete International, among others.
McCarter was selected as one of the "Ten Best Educators" in American schools of architecture in the education issue of Architect magazine, December 2009. Among other awards, two books by McCarter, 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; McCarter 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.
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.