Robert James graduated in the 1970s from Pratt Institute with a B.Arch. From that time, he has pursued architecture through competitions initially, and through other independent projects.
During the late 1980s James taught Building Technology and was a design studio critic at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union. He maintained a professional practice from the 1980s to 2012, at which time he formed, with three others, a Design Professional Corporation (DPC). He is currently in the process of retiring.