Commonwealth Professor, Architectural History

Education: University of Michigan, PhD; University of Michigan, M.A.; University of Colorado, B.A.

Richard Guy Wilson’s specialty is scholarship involving the architecture, design and art of the 18th to the 21st centuries in America and abroad. His research, publications and also exhibitions that have ranged from the architecture of Thomas Jefferson to the Arts & Crafts and related (Art Nouveau, etc.) movements in the United States and Europe, the history of cities and especially the American suburb and utopian plans, the foundations of Modernism, the revival of classicism in the later 19th century, and mid-20th century modern houses and furniture design. Very important has been his research on the connections in architecture with literature and poetry.

Wilson aims to engage students through lectures, class discussions, and also actually seeing the building and field trips. He has taught a wide variety of courses that range from the global history of cities, surveys of architectural history, historic preservation and then more specialized courses on Thomas Jefferson’s architecture, the American architecture of the 19th century, the 20th century, and seminars that treat the American Renaissance and the Beaux-Arts, the  Arts & Crafts Movement, mid-20th century modernism, and others, He also has run summer schools that are located in Newport, RI, Chicago, and other locations such as London and Paris. He is a frequent lecturer (more than 600) at other universities, museums and historical societies.

In addition to the projects noted above, Wilson has other areas of research and specialization that include a major new essay on the firm of McKim, Mead & White for Oxford University Press, classicism in America and others.  Of special importance has been his role in historic preservation that began with writing one of the earliest National Register nominations for an Ann Arbor, Michigan neighborhood in 1970. He has served on many boards including the National Historic Landmarks, the Virginia State Board, and also on many historic site advisory boards, such as the Preservation Society of Newport County (RI), Monticello, Preservation Piedmont, and others. Well known as an expert lecturer he gives about 15-20 guest talks around the US and abroad every year. He appears frequently on television as a commentator and has done about 75 different TV programs.

Wilson has been the author, or co/author of 13 books, the editor and contributor to 5 other books, he has been the curator or co/curator of 11 exhibitions, he has published 111 articles in periodicals, academic journals, encyclopedias, and collections of essays, and has published more than 130 short pieces of 1 to 3-4 pages for introductions, and short essays.

Edith Wharton at Home (Monticelli, 2012)

Harbor Hill: Portrait of a House (Norton, 2008)

The Colonial Revival House (Abrams, 2004)

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont (editor and contributor),

                                    Society of Architectural Historians Buildings of the US

                                    Oxford University Press, 2002

Richmond’s Monument Avenue, (with Sarah Shields Driggs and Robert

            Winthrop) University of North Carolina Press, 2001

The Campus Guide: University of Virginia, (with Sara A. Butler) New York: 

            Princeton Architectural Press, 1999, 2d ed. (with Butler and

            Neumann) 2012

The Making of Virginia Architecture, (with Charles Brownell, Calder Loth

                                     and William Rasmussen) Charlottesville: University Press

                                    of Virginia, 1992.

The Machine Age in America, 1986 (with Dianne Pilgrim and Dickran

                                    Tashjian) New York, Abrams, (Japanese Translation,

                                    1988) Reissue, Abrams, 2001.

McKim, Mead & White, Architects, New York: Rizzoli, 1983

The AIA Gold Medal, New York, McGraw-Hill, 1984

“From the Grounds UP: Thomas Jefferson’s Architecture and Design”

      Curator, Fralin Art Museum, January 26-April 29, 2018

“From Village to Grounds: Architecture at the University after Jefferson”

       Curator, Special Collections Library, Sept 2009-June 2010

“Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village: The Creation of an Architectural

Masterpiece, "Curator. Sept 2009- Jan. 2010, University Art Museum, Univ of Virginia.

“Jefferson’s Design University of Virginia” October 7, 1993-January 9, 1994,

                                    Bayly Art Museum, University of Virginia; Heinz

                                    Architecture Center-Carnegie Museum and Art,

                                    Pittsburgh, Oct. 27, 1994-Jan. 8, 1995; The Octagon,

                                    Washington, D.C., March 1, - June 4, 1995

"The Making of Virginia Architecture", exhibition, Co-curator, Nov.- Dec.

                                                1992 at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond.

"The Art That is Life: The Arts and Crafts Movement in America", Guest

                                    Curator.   Funded by grants from the National

                                    Endowment for the Humanities and the Henry Luce

                                     Foundation. Itinerary: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston,

                                    March 4 - June 6, 1987; The Los Angeles County

                                    Museum of Art, August 12 - November 1, 1987; The

                                    Detroit Institute of Art, December 9, 1987 - February 28,

                                     1988; The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York, April 5 –

                                    June 26, 1988

Distinguished Lecture, A&S, Student Selection Univ. of Virginia Feb 2011

Southeastern Society of Architectural Historians Lifetime Scholar Award,


Distinguished Professor Award, University of Virginia Alumni     

                          Association, April 2001  

Doctor (Honorary) of Fine Arts, Salve Regina University, 1999

Best Essay, 1994, (“Jefferson’s Lawn: Perceptions, ...” in TJ’s Academical Village, catalogue) Southeast Society of Architectural


Society Honors for Contributions to Architecture, 1994, Virginia Society                      American Institute of Architects

Best Essay, 1993, ("The Historic Present in Virginia Architecture," in Making of

                        Virginia Architecture), Southeast Society of Architectural


Award of Excellence, 1993, (Making of Virginia Architecture,) Southern Library Association

Outstanding Architecture Catalogue Award, 1993, (Making of Virginia                     Architecture) Society of Architectural Historians

Best Book of Year 1986, [Machine Age] American Library Association 1987

Honorary Member, American Institute of Architects, 1986

Koontz Prize "Best Article 1985", [Hoover Dam] Pacific Coast Branch

                                    American Historical Association, 1986

Ray Billington Prize "Best Article Any Journal 1985", [Hoover Dam] Western

                                    Historical Association                  

Guggenheim Fellow, 1984-1985