VINCENT SCULLY, 1920-2017

serveimageI never attended any of Vincent Scully’s legendary Yale architecture classes but I did hear him speak several times in Montreal, part of the Alcan lecture series that Peter Rose organized in the 1970s. So I could understand when people spoke of his influence. Scully introduced a Celtic passion to the sometimes dry subject of architectural history and his lectures were bravura performances that brought old buildings—and their builders—to life. He was an activist historian in the mold of Siegfried Giedion, and he influenced the contemporary scene, being an early advocate of the work of Louis Kahn and Robert Venturi. I wonder if his obituaries will recall that he made a major volte-face late in life, becoming a critic of mid-century modernism’s negative impact on the city (especially his city, New Haven) and a proponent of New Urbanism. Humanism was at the core of his architectural beliefs.

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