University of Virginia: School of Architecture

Karen Van Lengen

William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Architecture
2012-14 Fellow of Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities
Fellow, American Institute of Architects
Karen Van Lengen
Discipline Architecture
Education B.A., Vassar College; M.Arch., Columbia University
Office 202 Peyton House

Personal Statement

Karen Van Lengen, FAIA, is an internationally recognized architect and educator. She is the William Kenan Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia. Van Lengen’s research focuses on the exploration of sound and communication as an integral part of the new public realm and its evolving democratic culture. She is currently the University Research Fellow (2012-14) at the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities at the University of Virginia, where she is creating a new web-based project entitled “Soundscape Architecture” that was launced in 2014. ( The project celebrates the aural qualities of iconic examples of architecture using inventive interpretive and analytical processes. She is also the recipient of a Jefferson Trust Grant to study the aural qualities of the University’s Academical Village with students and faculty collaborators. 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) won Honorable Mention in Virginia AIA’s Design Research and Scholarship Competition. In addition, she has co-authored several articles on the subject of sound and architecture.

 From 1999-2009 Van Lengen led the School of Architecture as its Dean, where she championed cross-disciplinary education and research to address the complex environmental and cultural challenges that she dubbed, “The Architecture of Urgent Matters”. She founded “Campbell Constructions”, a faculty design program to renovate and add to Campbell Hall and its contiguous landscape, using her own faculty and alumni as the designers. Her book, Urgent Matters: Designing the School of Architecture at Jefferson’s University, (2009) documents the decade long rejuvenation process.  As Chair of Architecture at Parsons School of Design (1995-1999), she founded the renowned Design Build Workshop, and its associated curriculum that celebrates the theory-to–building process and that remains a hallmark of the program today.

 Van Lengen, a cum laude graduate of Vassar College and a MArch graduate of Columbia University, began her professional career at IM Pei & Partners, where she became the first female Design Associate, before founding her own firm in New York City in 1987. A Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Van Lengen is the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships and grants associated with her design work and leadership.


Personal Gallery

1 of 8 Web site
2 of 8 The Mix House for VITRA, Karen Van Lengen, with Joel Sanders Architect and Ben Rubin, EAR Studio 2006.
3 of 8 The Mix House for VITRA, Karen Van Lengen, with Joel Sanders Architect and Ben Rubin, EAR Studio 2006.
4 of 8 American Memorial Library, 1990.
5 of 8 Olympic Stadium, 1992.
6 of 8 Olympic Stadium, 1992.
7 of 8 Residence, 1997.
8 of 8 RIvington House Rooftop Garden Proposal