Michael Lewis

Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art History

Lawrence Hall Rm 210


B.A. Haverford College (1980)
Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania (1989)

Scholarship/Creative Work

Publications — Books

  • American Art and Architecture (Thames & Hudson, 2006)
  • Gothic Revival (Thames and Hudson, 2002/ Japanese translation, 2004)
  • Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (W. W. Norton, 2001)
  • Monument to Philanthropy: The Design and Building of Girard College, 1832-1848, with Bruce Laverty and Michelle Taillon Taylor (Philadelphia: Girard College, 1998)
  • Drawn from the Source: The Travel Drawings of Louis I. Kahn, catalogue of an exhibition at the Williams College Museum of Art, with Eugene J. Johnson  (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996)
  • La Geometrie de la Fortification: Traites et Manuels, 1500 – 1800/ The Geometry of Defense, Catalogue of an exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal: Canadian Centre for Architecture, 1992)
  • Frank Furness, The Complete Works, with George E. Thomas and Jeffrey A. Cohen (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1991/ revised edition 1996)
  • The Politics of the German Gothic Revival (New York: Architectural History Foundation and MIT Press, 1993)

Selected Chapters in Books

  • “The Idea of the American Mall,” in The National Mall: Rethinking Washington’s Monumental Core, Cynthia Field and Nathan Glazer, eds. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), pp. 11-25
  • “The Inaction Painters and their Moment,” in Marc Simpson, ed., Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 195-207
  • “Kahn and the Belated Monument,” in Coming to Light: The Louis I. Kahn Monument to Franklin D. Roosevelt in New York City (New York: Cooper Union School of Architecture, 2005), 22-25
  • “The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts as Building and as Idea,” in The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts: 200 Years of Excellence, 1805-2005 (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2005), 63-73
  •  “Owen Biddle and the Young Carpenter’s Assistant,” in Kenneth Hafertepe and James F. O’Gorman, eds., American Architects and their Books Before 1848 (University of Massachusetts, 2001), 149-163
  • “Die Hamburger Baukultur in der ersten Hälfte des 19ten Jahrhunderts,” in D. Klemm and H. Frank, eds., Alexis de Chateauneuf 1799-1853, Architekt in Hamburg, London und Oslo, (Hamburg: Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, 2000),  27-35
  •  “The Birth of a German Academic Tradition,” in D. B. Brownlee, ed.,. Friedrich Weinbrenner: Architect of Karlsruhe, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1986), 35-40; 115-127
  •  “Eleanor Donnelley Erdman Hall” and “The Dominican Mother House of St. Catherine de Ricci,” in D. B. Brownlee and D. DeLong, eds., Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture, (New York: Rizzoli, 1991),352-357; 384-389
  • “Paestumstil in Fachwerk: Eine Anmerkung zu Weinbrenner in Hannover,” in Günther Kokkelink and Sid Auffahrt, eds., Georg Hoeltje Festschrift, (Hanover, Germany: Institut für Bau- und Kunstgeschichte, 1987)

Selected articles

  • “Frank Furness at Thirty: The Armory of the First City Troop,” Nineteenth Century 28,no. 2 (Fall 2008), 2-7
  • “The First Design for Fairmount Park,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography CXXX, no. 3 (July 2006), 283-297
  •  “The Architectural Competition for the Philadelphia Academy of Music, 1854-1855,” Nineteenth Century 16, no. 2 (Spring 1997), 3-10
  • Six encyclopedia entries (“Karl Wilhelm von Bötticher,” “Joseph von Görres,” “August Reichensperger,” “Rundbogenstil,” “Vincenz Statz” and “Georg Gottlob Ungewitter”) in Jane Turner, ed., The Dictionary of Art (New York: Grove, 1996)
  • “Utopia and the well-ordered fortress: J. M. Schwalbach’s town plans of 1635,” Architectural History 37 (1994), 24-36

Selected criticism

  • “Yale Art and Architecture Building: the Problem of Adding onto an Icon,” Architectural Record (February 2009), p. 60
  • “American Art: The Authorized Version,” New Criterion 27, no. 4 (December 2008), pp. 9-14
  •  “Glass Walls to Bunkers: The New Look of U. S. Embassies,” New York Times (July 27, 2003), Week in Review, section 4, p. 6
  • “How to Avoid a 9/11 Memorial Disaster,” Wall Street Journal (August 12, 2003), p. D-8
  • “Mod Quad,” Chronicle of Higher Education XLIX (July 11, 2003), no. 44, pp. B7-B9
  •  “In a Changing Skyline, a Sudden, Glaring Void,” New York Times (September 16, 2001), Week in Review, p. 1
  • “How Bad is the Getty?” Commentary 105, no. 3 (March 1998), pp. 64-68

Selected papers and conferences (since 1999)

2008    “Frank Furness in Practice,” Society of Architectural Historians Conference, Cincinnati
“Frank Furness: Second Thoughts,” Aarfa Lecture, School of Architecture, Drexel University, Philadelphia
2007     “August Reichensperger und das mitteleuropäische Parlamentshaus,” conference
Variationen des Historismus – Aspekte des Historismus in Ungarn und in Deutschland, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
“At the Crossroads of Art and Science: The Motion Study Photography of Eadweard Muybridge,” Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia
2006     “Collaboration and Creativity in Architecture,” Organized and chaired session at
College Art Association Meeting, Boston, February 24
2005    “Modernism and Monumentality,” Symposium at Cooper Union on Louis I. Kahn’s unbuilt memorial to Frank Delano Roosevelt in New York, January 25
2004     “The Strange ‘Retirement’ of T. U. Walter,” Athenaeum of Philadelphia
symposium, Thomas Ustick Walter, Historic Architecture for a Modern World 2003      “In What Style Should We Write?” Plenary Address, Society of Architectural    Historians annual conference, Denver
“Thomas Sully’s Philadelphia,” Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia, on the occasion of the acquisition of the Sully portrait of William Wagner
2001     “The Allegorical Monument in a Narrative Nation,” National Press Club Forum on the Centennial of the McMillan Plan for Washington (Newington-Cropsey Foundation)


  • Numerous essays and review in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Commentary, New Criterion, Architectural Record, Chronicle of Higher Education, etc.
  • Authored National Historic Landmark Nomination of the John Coltrane House for the    National Park Service, 1998
  • Historical consultant for restoration of Old Economy Village, Pa. for Pennsylvania Museum Commission, 1988-89
  • Served on architectural juries, including memorial to Kurdish victims of Halabja poison
    gas attack, Teheran, Iran (1992) and choosing Awards of Merit and Conservation Awards, Natal Institute of Architects, Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (1995)
  • Organized and conducted study tours for Society of Architectural Historians of Hudson River Valley (2006) and architecture of Harmony Society, Pennsylvania (2007)
  • Serves regularly as anonymous reviewer for publishers, including George Braziller, Rizzoli, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, University of Pennsylvania Press, Temple University Press, U. of Massachusetts Press, etc

Awards, Fellowships & Grants

  • Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 2008-09
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 2000-01
  • Senior Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, spring, 1996
  • Alice Davis Hitchcock book award, Society of Architectural Historians, 1995
  • DAAD Fellowship, West Germany, 1985-86
  • Fulbright Fellowship, West Germany, 1980-81

Professional Affiliations

Positions held

  • From Assistant Professor to Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor, Williams College, 1993-
  • Visiting lecturer, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, winter 1995
  • Lecturer, Growth and Structure of Cities; Bryn Mawr College, 1989-91

Professional organizations and service

  • Associate editor, Buildings of the United States, Society of the Architectural Historians, 1996-2006
  • Board Member, Victorian Society in America, 1994-2004


Michael J. Lewis has taught American art and architecture at Williams College since 1993.  After receiving his B.A. from Haverford College in 1980, and two years at the University of Hannover Germany, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989.   He has taught at Bryn Mawr College; McGill University, Montreal; and the University of Natal, South Africa.  A critic of architecture, he writes for a wide variety of publications.  He is the author of, among others, Frank Furness: Architecture and the Violent Mind (2001), The Gothic Revival (2002), American Art and Architecture (2006), and the prize-winning August Reichensperger: The Politics of the German Gothic Revival (1993).  His research interests include  architectural theory; utopian and communal societies; and the nature of creativity.  In 2008 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to support the completion of City of Refuge: the Other Utopia, a study of millennial town planning.  Lewis was named Faison-Pierson-Stoddard Professor of Art in 2008.