Michael J. Lewis

Michael J. Lewis

Fellow: Awarded 2008
Field of Study: Architecture, Planning and Design

Competition: US & Canada

Williams College

Michael J. Lewis, the Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art at Williams College, is a leading architectural historian. Combining his expertise in architecture with his unusually deep knowledge of European and American art, history, and culture, Mr. Lewis’s researches show that architecture evolves with art, and with the culture of which it is a part, and how both a given culture and its architecture develop “in critical confrontation with modernity,” as he has expressed it. His most recent study, American Art and Architecture (2006), was an outgrowth of his frustration with the treatment of art and architecture as separate genres instead of as interrelated developments within a culture.

He was originally a student of economics, earning his B. A. in that field from Haverford College in 1980. However, he took his M.A. (1985) and Ph.D. (1989) from the University of Pennsylvania in art history, and his time as a Fulbright Fellow at the Technische Universität Hannover sharpened his interest in architectural theory. His very first monograph, a revision of his doctoral dissertation entitled The Politics of German Gothic Revival: August Reichensperger (1993), won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Prize of the Society of Architectural Historians as the year’s best book in architectural history. He followed this with his very well received biography Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (Norton, 2001) and The Gothic Revival (Thames and Hudson, 2002; Japanese translation, 2004).

He often first develops his ideas in the articles he regularly contributes to such diverse publications as Atlantic Monthly, Weekly Standard, Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and Nineteenth Century, Mr. Lewis has also published over twenty-five scholarly articles as well as three catalogues: Frank Furness: The Complete Works (Princeton Architectural Press, 1993; rev. ed., 1996), with George E. Thomas and Jeffrey A. Cohen; Drawn from the Source: The Travel Drawings of Louis I. Kahn (MIT Press, 1996), with Eugene J. Johnson, for an exhibition at Williams College of Art; and Monument to Philanthropy: The Design and Building of Girard College, 1832-1948 (Girard College, 1998).

Before joining the faculty of Williams College, Mr. Lewis was a visiting lecturer at Bryn Mawr (1989-91) and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (1991-93). He has also been a Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery, researching his book on Frank Furness, and a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2000-01), where his study of Pietist architecture and town planning—the subject of his Guggenheim Fellowship project—began in earnest. He intends to conduct further research for this project at the Moravian archives in both Herrnhut, Germany, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


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