Harry Sternfeld was another of that group of architects working in Philadelphia who came under the considerable influence of Paul P. Cret while studying at the University of Pennsylvania. A native Philadelphian, Sternfeld graduated from Central High School in 1907, entering the University of Pennsylvania on a city scholarship, and graduating with his B.S. in 1911. During school vacations he worked from 1906 to 1912 (except for 1909) in the Wilmington, DE office of John D. Thompson, Jr., the architect who, in association with Henry Hornbostel and Jones, won the competition for the New Castle County Public Buildings with a Beaux-Arts influenced design. During 1900 Sternfeld spent some time in the office of Frank Miles Day & Bro. Following his graduation, Sternfeld left the United States to work for Francis S. Swales in his Montreal office and, while there, participated in the designs of the Chateau Frontenac and the Hotel Vancouver. Swales also was Beaux-Arts educated and maintained an atelier which Sternfeld attended while in Canada.
In 1912 he married Flora Maxwell of Atlantic City, NJ, and in 1913 returned to Philadelphia to begin work on his Masters of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1914 he graduated and was awarded the Paris Prize: but World War I intervened, preventing him from traveling to Europe; and he instead accepted a position on the faculty of Architecture at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he remained until 1923, with interruptions for military service and the delayed trip to Europe. During his stay in Europe he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and associated with the Atelier Jaussely in Paris from 1919-1920, working on a plan for the City of Paris. From Paris he moved on to the American Academy in Rome, where he studied from 1920-1921.
In 1923 Sternfeld left Carnegie-Mellon, where he had risen to be head of the Department of Architecture, in order to join the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania as Professor of Design. At that time he also launched what would prove a long career as both architect and planner, during which he would design such projects as the U.S. World War I monument at Audenarde, Belgium, the Pittsburgh Building at the Sesquicentennial Exposition in Philadelphia (1926), and the Slovak Girls Academy in Danville, PA (1929). As a planner Sternfeld worked from 1928-1934 as City Planner for Rome, NY
During his long career Sternfeld associated from time to time with other architects, most notably John I. Bright, whose office was close to his in the Otis Building. He also associated with the Ballinger Co., Edward H. Wigham, and Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson.
Sternfeld had become a member of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the AIA in 1916, transferred to the Philadelphia Chapter in 1926 and became a fellow in 1950.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Clubs and Membership Organizations
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Philadelphia Chapter, AIA
- Philadelphia Sketch Club
- National Sculpture Society
- Illuminating Engineers Society
- University of Pennsylvania
- Ecole des Beaux-Arts
- American Academy in Rome
- Central High School
- Carnegie Institute of Technology
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