When you ask Eric Sterner ’15 B.Arch where architecture ranks among the careers he thought he would have before entering the undergraduate architecture program at the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, it comes in squarely at fourth.
Above it? Pediatrician, professional studio percussionist and even arable farmer. But, he says, “a career in architecture became an umbrella, and I don’t necessarily feel that distant from any of those earlier career ideas.”
That’s because he sees an architecture degree as an educational experience that serves well beyond the practice of architecture itself. “The degree heightened my observance of our environment, social psychology, history and aspirations of the future,” he says. “It also fostered in me a critical ability to decipher and alter views based on information both gathered and learned.”
That ability to decipher is critical not only as an architect but also as a creative person: “My creativity is inspired by intangible moments and patterns—all rooted in observance. I believe these uncategorical and unplanned moments create points to reflect upon and later understand.”
As founding principal of Last Architects, he taps into his curiosity and observation to “create designed solutions and an ongoing dialogue of learning that subsequently inform a continued understanding of the practice and theory of architecture.”
Whether at work or on his own time, the moments that ignite Sterner’s creativity manifest themselves in many ways: travel, the ability to avoid a life of repetition and, most importantly, “being open to encountering the unknown.”
It is this openness that helped foster Sterner’s success at CAPLA and that feeds his passion for creative excellence today—in design and beyond.