Ours is the oldest and largest program in the nation. Architectural historians at the University of Virginia explore the history of architecture, landscape, and urban form by analyzing the sources and forms of creative architectural expression while considering architecture a critical feature in a broader social and cultural context. The department’s teaching and research aims to illuminate the changing meaning of vernacular and monumental designs. With its roots in the study of American architectural history, the department’s primary areas of study also include Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Asian and Modern European architecture, cities, and landscapes.
The faculty of the Department of Architectural History are widely celebrated scholars and educators. In recent years, books by Cammy Brothers, Louis Nelson and Sheila Crane have all won national book awards. Cammy Brothers' Michaelangelo, Drawing and the Invention of Architecture (Yale, 2008), won top prizes from both the Society of Architectural Historians and the College Art Association. The faculty are also prolific; Richard Wilson's most recent book--Edith Wharton at Home--is his 16th. Most of our faculty have also received university-wide teaching awards. Lisa Reilly held the NEH/Horace Goldsmith Distinguished Teaching Chair of Art and Architectural History from 1999-2002 and Richard Wilson was recognized in 2001 as the Alumni Association Distinguished Professor for his excellence in teaching.
Through lecture courses, specialized research seminars, independent thesis and dissertation projects, and guest lectures and symposia, faculty and students explore key aspects of the built world. The faculty analyzes the sources and forms of creative architectural expression and, at the same time, approaches architecture as a critical feature in a broader social and cultural context. The department’s teaching and research aims to illuminate the changing meaning of architecture for the people who commission, design, build, use, preserve, and demolish buildings, landscapes, and cities. In addition to a strong concentration of specialists in American architecture, the faculty includes specialists in medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, modern European and East Asian architectural history. Faculty members have been honored on numerous occasions with teaching awards, research fellowships, and prizes for their scholarly publications. Graduates of our program include college and university teachers, architects, preservationists, writers and museum professionals.
The Department of Architectural History offers second-year M.A. students the opportunity to study at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London during the fall semester. Click here to learn more about this and other international programs at the School of Architecture.
Click to see Professor Louis Nelson's class blog for ARH 5604: "Field Methods in Historic Preservation," which will document Little Mountain (an historical site in Charlottesville) using using both traditional and cutting-edge technological methodologies.
Located in the highly regarded School of Architecture, many of the Architectural History department’s students and faculty take advantage of interdisciplinary associations with colleagues working in architecture, landscape architecture, and planning. Many students in the Master of Architectural History program take advantage of the School of Architecture’s certificate program in Historic Preservation.
Dual degree programs are also available for students wishing to combine their work in architectural history with training in design and planning. The courses and faculty of the McIntire Department of Art, with its complementary offerings in both art and architectural history, further enrich the architectural history department’s program. Students are also able to benefit from the rich offerings in the departments of history, anthropology, literature, and other allied fields.
Undergraduates can both major and minor in architectural history. Also undergraduate majors in Architectural History can continue on for a 5th Year Master of Architectural History.
The department has a two-year Master of Architectural History program with approximately thirty students enrolled. Graduates of this program find employment in historic preservation, public history, museum work, and in professional practice. The Architectural History and Art History faculties jointly offer a Ph.D. program in Art and Architectural History. This program continues to prepare students for careers in college and university teaching, scholarly and popular publication, curatorial work, as well as areas of historic preservation and public history.
Pictured below: 2013 Architectural History graduates.
2014 Preservation Course