Vincent Scully, 1920-2017

1. December 2017
Vincent Scully (right) and Prince Charles at the National Building Museum in 2005 (Photo: National Building Museum)
Vincent Scully, who taught history at Yale University for more than six decades, died on Thursday at his home in Virginia due to complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 97.
Lauded by architect Philip Johnson as "the most influential architecture teacher ever," the art historian is also touted with popularizing historic preservation and is considered the spiritual father of New Urbanism, at least according to the Washington Post's obituary on Scully. His influence was greatest at Yale, where he earned three degrees and started teaching in 1947. He lectured to packed rooms on art but also architecture until 1991, then coming out of retirement to teach at the University of Miami as well as at Yale until 2009. Notable students of Scully's at Yale include architecture critic Paul Goldberger, architect/artist Maya Lin, and New Urbanists Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who brought Scully to the University of Miami after his retirement.

His influence beyond the confines of New Haven and Coral Gables happened through his many books, including Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade (1991), Modern Architecture - The Architecture of Democracy (1961), and American Architecture and Urbanism (1969). The last articulated his shift away from embracing modern architecture to criticizing it, due in great part to the destruction of Penn Station in 1965. The impact of that building's destruction lingered with Scully for the rest of his life, as is evident in this short film (at just after the 3-minute mark) on his receipt of the 2010 Henry Hope Reed Award, which is given out annually by the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture "to an individual working outside the practice of architecture who has supported the cultivation of the traditional city, its architecture and art through writing, planning or promotion.":
Scully's influence is also evident in the National Building Museum's annual Vincent Scully Prize, which it created in 1999 "to recognize exemplary practice, scholarship, or criticism in architecture, historic preservation, and urban design." He received the inaugural award and subsequent awards went to his former students Paul Goldberger, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, as well as Jane Jacobs, Prince Charles (top photo), and former Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A. M. Stern, among others.

In 2012 the National Building Museum created this tribute to Vincent Scully and the eponymous award:

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