Karen Van Lengen
Karen Van Lengen, is an internationally recognized, distinguished architect and educator. In her role as Dean of the School of Architecture from 1999-2009 she championed cross-disciplinary education and research to address the complex environmental and cultural challenges that she dubbed The Architecture of Urgent Matters. She supported the post-Katrina reconstruction initiatives, the development of sustainable and emergency housing and a vibrant series of programs that encouraged a constructive dialogue between ethics and aesthetics. With other University scholars, she co-founded a pan-university initiative on the improvement of the environment. She also founded "Women’s Work," a monthly lecture series at the University that promotes the scholarship of women.
While dean, she initiated "Campbell Constructions", a faculty design program to recreate Campbell Hall and its contiguous landscape using her own faculty and alumni as the designers. Her most recent book Urgent Matters: Designing the School of Architecture at Jefferson’s University, (2009) documents that decade long rejuvenation process. As Chair of Architecture at Parsons School of Design, (1995-1999), she founded the renowned Design Build Workshop, that celebrates the theory-to-building process, by redesigning the curriculum to emphasis this fundamental relationship. In 2010 she received the Zintl Award for Leadership at the University of Virginia.
Van Lengen began her professional career at I M Pei & Partners where she became the first female Design Associate, before founding her own firm in New York City in 1987. She has won numerous design awards, competitions and honors including , a Fulbright Fellowship in Rome, Fellowship in the American Institute of Architects and the winner of the Amerika Gedenkbibliotek Competition in Berlin.
Van Lengen received her B.A. from Vassar College, cum laude with departmental honors in Psychology, followed by a MArch from Columbia University, where she received the William Kinne Travelling Fellowship and the American Association of University Women Fellowship.
Her current research focuses on the exploration of sound and communication as an integral part of the new public realm and its evolving democratic culture. In 2010, The Art Institute of Chicago acquired her MIX HOUSE project (with Joel Sanders and Ben Rubin), for their permanent design collection. Another recent project, 'Sound Lounge', (with Jim Welty and Joel Sanders Architect) won Honorable Mention in Virginia AIA’s Design, Research and Scholarship Competition. She is currently building an archive of recorded sounds of buildings and environments.
Van Lengen is the William R. Kennan Jr. Professor of Architecture. She has published numerous articles and books during her career as architect and educator.