KAREN VAN LENGEN

Kenan Professor, Architecture

Education: Columbia University, Master of Architecture; Vassar College, B.A.


Karen Van Lengen, FAIA,  is the William Kenan Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia. She is an internationally recognized architect, researcher and academic leader. Van Lengen’s research has focused on the exploration of sound and communication as an integral part of the new public realm.  As a  University Research Fellow (2012-14) at the Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities, she created an ongoing web-based project entitled “Soundscape Architecture”,  launched in 2014. This project celebrates the aural qualities of iconic examples of architecture using inventive interpretive and analytical processes. She is the recipient of a Jefferson Trust Grant to study the aural qualities of the University’s Academical Village with students and faculty collaborators. This work has led to the creation of another web site, (in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Technologies) entitled "Listening to the Lawn".  Her art and architectural works have been acquired and exhibited at several international museums including, The Art Institute of Chicago  (MIX House Project), Columbia University Library Drawing Collection, (Berlin Library Competition Drawings), The Museum of the CIty of New York, (Soundscape New York Installation) and Amerika Haus Berlin, as well as several exhibition galleries.  She is currently working on experimental sound designs for architectural space with the aim to influence the scope and practice of architectural design. In addition to her design work, Van Lengen has lectured extensively, authored and co-authored several books and articles, related to sound, landscape and academic projects.


From 1999-2009, Van Lengen led the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia as the 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. Her book, "CityScapes", documents the five projects that became the foundation for this continuing program.

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, competition prizes, fellowships and grants associated with her design work and leadership.

New York Public Library animation, The Senses: Design Beyond Vision, curated by Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt Museum, NYC, 2018

Van Lengen, Karen, “Pedagogy and Place: The legacy of the Landscape at Vassar College”, in     Landscape and the Academy, edited by Bluestone and Beardsley, Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard       University Press 2018

Soundscape New York Exhibition, Museum of the City of New York, NY, 2015

Drawings from the America Memorial Competition, Berlin Museum, 2015

Highlights from the Permanent Collection: Avery Library, 125 Year Celebration, Columbia University, 2015

The Art of Noise Exhibition, College Cork, Ireland, 2013

Art by Architects Exhibition, Virginia Society of AIA, Richmond, Virginia, 2013

Mix House, Highlights from the Department of Architecture and Design, Permanent Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, 2010-11

Mix House Drawings, Bronx Museum Permanent Collection, New York City, 2010

Van Lengen, Karen and Sanders, Joel, Re-envisioning Audio Techno-culture, The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, 2010                       

Van Lengen, Karen, URGENT MATTERS: Designing the School of Architecture at Jefferson’s University, University of Virginia School of Architecture, 2009

Van Lengen Karen and Sanders, Joel, “Making Sense”, INTERIOR ATMOSPHERES, Architectural Design Publication, May/June 2008

Mix House Installation, Open House Exhibition: Architecture and Technology for Intelligent Living, Pasadena CA, Essen Germany, Warsaw, Poland and Oslo 2007-9

Van Lengen, Karen, “MIX House”, The Place of Sound: Architecture/Music/Acoustics, Ryerson University, 2007

Van Lengen, Karen and Reilly, Lisa, An Architectural Guide to Vassar College, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2004

Van Lengen, Karen and Sheridan, Ted, “Hearing Architecture”, Journal of Architectural Education, November 2003

Van Lengen, Karen, CitySpaces, Parsons School of Design, 2000

Van Lengen, Karen, “By Design- Designing a house for her family”, Metropolis, September, 1998

Van Lengen, Karen, “The structuring of a new architectural landscape.” Bulletin of The International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures, Vol. 35,) n.2, 1994

Van Lengen, Karen, “Spreebogen Typologies: Jury Reconvenes to Confirm 1st-Stage Winner,” Competitions, Volume 3, Fall 1993

International Architecture Exhibition, The Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles, CA, 1993

Jahn-Sportpark / Mauerpark fur Berlin Olympia 2000, Berlin, Germany, 1992

Drawings from Avery Library Collection, Buell Center, Columbia University, NYC, 1991

Internationale Sommerakademie Fur Architektur IM, 15. Juli, Bis, 26, August 1989           

Amerika Gedenkbibliotek Competition Exhibitions, 1988

Amerika Haus, Berlin, West Germany, 1989

Amerika Gedenkbibliotek First Prize Exhibition, Galerie Aedes, Berlin, West Germany, 1989

Works on Paper by 24 Artists, Gallery Onetwentyeight, NYC, 1988

Fellow, Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities

Jefferson Trust Foundation Grant for “Listening to the Lawn” Project

Fellow of the American Institute of Architects

University of Virginia Zintl Leadership Award

Distinguished Achievement Award, Virginia Society of the AIA

First Prize winner, Amerika Gedenkbibliotek Competition, Berlin, West Germany

Third Prize, Formica 2000X Competition

AIA Honor Award, Fragrant Hill Hotel, Beijing, China (I.M. Pei & Partners)

Fulbright Fellowship in Architecture, Rome, Italy

American Association of University Women Academic Fellowship