Richard G. Stein (1916–1990) was an architect and educator who devoted much of his career to studying energy use in architectural design, and whose influential ideas on energy conservation shaped building practices from the mid-1960s through the 1980s.
During the oil crisis of the mid-1970s, Stein noted that 40% of all energy consumed in the U.S. was used by the building industry to create materials, construct buildings, and maintain them. In his book, Architecture and Energy (Anchor Press, 1977) Stein called for new design values that would reduce energy consumption by using natural materials, increasing building density and tailoring design to suit local conditions. He estimated that careful choices of materials and building types could cut energy used in construction by 20%. Paul Goldberger, the architecture critic of The New York Times, said of Stein's approach, ''In this age, when we are besieged with arrogant, egocentric designers on the one hand and anti-design energy zealots on the other, his search for a humane, honest way of building is a refreshing one.''
Stein was born in Chicago in 1916, attended The Cooper Union, received his B.Arch from New York University and his master's from Harvard University. He studied under and worked for Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. After serving in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, he moved to New York where he worked as a principal from 1946 to 1960 with the firm Katz Waisman Blumenkranz Stein Weber, Architects Associated. In 1961 he founded his own firm, the Stein Partnership. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and in 1975 and 1976 he served as president of its New York chapter. In 1980 his work was the subject of an exhibition and catalog—Richard G. Stein: Forty Years of Architectural Work—at Cooper Union’s School of Architecture, where he taught from 1946–1990.
Among the projects he designed or planned were the Wiltwyck School for Boys in Yorktown Heights, NY; Sugarloaf Village in Kingfield, ME; the Manhattan Children's Treatment Center on Wards Island in the East River; and several schools and other public facilities in New York. At the time of his death Stein was working for the National Park Service on the design of the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY.