PreviousNext

In Memoriam: Diane Lewis, AIA

In Memoriam by • 05/04

The architectural community mourns the loss of Diane Lewis, AIA. One of the youngest recipients of the Rome Architecture Prize in Architecture, Professor Lewis was the first woman architect to be appointed to the full-time faculty at The Cooper Union. She taught countless architects with a career spanning more than thirty years. Below are words of remembrance from those who were touched by Diane’s passion, intellect, and empathy. Please share your own reflections on Diane in our comment section below.

“Diane’s precise language and unrelenting pursuit of the critical demanded that we engage the world as it should be. She lived her life in accord with the intensity of her architectural work. Her gravitational field pulled together artists, scholars, writers, architects, poets, and the unexpected who traveled in and out of her sphere.”
— Emma Fuller, Lead Designer, Diane Lewis Architect

“Diane Lewis was one of the giants in the world of architectural thought, practice, and pedagogy. She had a deep and formidable intellect, and was a dedicated educator who influenced generations of students. We have lost an important voice.”
— Gina Pollara, Senior Advisor, ReThinkNYC

“Diane Lewis: an architect, an intellectual and a provocateur. A stimulating, nurturing, yet appropriately critical educator, she was never afraid to call a student or colleague to task. Diane was as loved as she was controversial. Over the years, I got to know Diane through her smart and outspoken comments at several public events I organized in various institutions. She was a steadfast supporter of AIANY and was especially active during the establishment of the Center for Architecture. She personally called me last year to welcome me to the New York chapter and described, with her signature fervor, the many projects she had in mind for us to collaborate on. Her great enthusiasm, erudition, and tremendous sense of style will be dearly missed!”
— Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA, Executive Director, AIA New York / Center for Architecture

“It was always such a treat to bump into Diane at the Center for Architecture—we always laughed, I always learned.”
— Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA, ArchNewsNow.com

“Diane was a singular intellect–equal parts imagination and rigor. She was as generous as she was fierce. As an educator, her impact cannot be overstated. She gave her students everything she had–and she had a lot. Diane fought to maintain a space for genuine inquiry in architecture and, for this, so many of us owe her so much.”
— Bradley Samuels, Partner, Situ Studio

“I had the honor and pleasure of teaching with Diane for 15 years. Early on, I appreciated Diane’s powerful ability to inspire students to believe in themselves as artists and architects. Her supreme command of literature, architectural history, and art was part of an existential view on the making of civilization—where all is interconnected in an ongoing battle for civic purpose and artistic freedom. ”
— Peter Schubert, FAIA, Partner, Ennead Architects

I had the privilege to teach for roughly a decade with Diane Lewis at Cooper as a critic and architectural historian in the fourth-year studio. Diane was, in all likelihood, the most dedicated teacher I have ever known, and was extremely passionate about architecture. She lived, breathed, ate, and slept architecture; it is no exaggeration to say she was a living embodiment of architectural thought. Often, she would stay deep into the night during reviews that had started in the morning. For her, architecture was an “infinitely unfolding discipline,” to cite her own words, echoed by one of her students at Cooper during her eulogy, which was attended by the entire school on May 2, the day she died. She touched the lives of generations of Cooper students, practitioners, and protagonists of theory and practice. She did not divide modern from ancient architectural “styles”, but moved beyond the rigid and ideologically compromised notion of an applied style, seeking out a deeper continuum of memory, of experience, and imagination that tie all epochs of architecture together, both explicitly and implicitly. In this respect, she was deeply connected both to her teacher John Hejduk and to the thought of Ernesto Nathan Rogers, as well as to her other mentor, Raimund Abraham, and was part of an extended genealogy that began with Le Corbusier. She had a open, generous, ethically, and imaginatively powerful reading of modern architecture, both in its relation to its underlying tenets and their historical development; she was equally cognizant of the wider implications of the complex dialogue between modernity and tradition, which she refined as she taught tirelessly the principles of a free plan and of a structurally oriented and urbanistically responsive practice. Hers is a unique voice that cannot be replaced and will be sorely missed; she is the last of the great line of teachers, critics, thinkers and artist/architects who made Cooper Union one of the most admired architectural schools in the world in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and which, in her studio and seminars, continued until her untimely death, which she fought to the end. It was a privilege to teach with her and to know her; she was a great friend.

— Daniel Sherer, Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, Columbia GSAPP

Diane Agonistes

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Today, you and I, and a much larger world, lost Diane Lewis—a huge force of creative intelligence, pedagogical care, challenging honesty, honorable challenges, and tenacious personal loyalty. I cannot account for the many and varied ways she engaged you. You knew her individually, whether independently or not. I am confident she would like this: you knew her in your own existential way.

I will, however, say for the record she was indefatigable—except in her wrestling match with death.

She drew like an angel.
She taught superlatively.
She thought and talked from encyclopedic knowledge.
She raconteured magnificently and often hilariously.
She cared for ideas and thinking—small and large.
She cared for you.

She was fearless.
She was positive.

She is gone.

RIP

— William M. Singer, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Plan Examiner, Borough of Brooklyn, NYC Department of Buildings

“Diane was loved by many and respected by all. She was fiercely loyal to her students, and she made no secret of her advocacy of the many friends she held dear in both personal and intellectual complicity. To that end, I can only see that this loss is shared far and wide by many.”
—Nader Tehrani, Dean, Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture (see full remembrance here)

 

One Response to In Memoriam: Diane Lewis, AIA

  1. Yuri Birchwood-Fuentes says:

    I would not be an architect if not for Professor Lewis. I will miss her dearly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Upper East Side residence by Gabellini Sheppard, New York. Photo: Paul Warchol.
Michael Gabellini, FAIA, Delivers AIANY 2017 Gil Oberfield Lecture At the Center for Architecture
AIANY 2017 President David Piscuskas, FAIA, at the National Summit on Design and Urban Mobility. Credit: Center for Architecture
Are We Ready for Autonomous Vehicles? From the Executive Director
Reflections at Keppel Bay in Keppel Bay, Singapore. Photo: Keppel Bay Pte Ltd.
Featured Member: Daniel Libeskind Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Join us for FitCity 2017! Hunter's Point South Waterfront Park by Thomas Balsley Associates and WEISS/MANFREDI. Credit: Albert Vecerka/Esto.
Policy Pulse: FitCity 2017 Policy Pulse
Speakers of "Hesitation and Constraints: Barriers to Social Research in Practice." Credit: Center for Architecture
Social Sciences, Good for Your Bottom Line and Society At the Center for Architecture
The Quad Cinema, renovated by Projects Design Associates with rebrand by Pentagram. Credit: Marion Curtis / StarPix.
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
"Architecture of Independence - African Modernism" closes on 05.27.17. Credit: Sam Lahoz
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
Claremont University Consortium, Claremont, CA. Photo: Michael Moran.
Featured Member: Paul Lewis Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Diane Lewis at a Design IV review, Fall 2008
In Memoriam: Diane Lewis, AIA In Memoriam
Photo courtesy of Aaron Burson via Unsplash
Policy Pulse: AIANY Launches New Civic Leadership Program Policy Pulse
Ben Prosky, Assoc. AIA (AIA New York and the Center for Architecture); Medal of Honor winner Dr. Sharon E. Sutton, FAIA; Award of Merit winner Fiona Cousins, PE; and David Piscuskas, FAIA (AIA New York and 1100 Architect). Photography: Samuel Lahoz.
Industry Gathers at 2017 AIANY Honors and Awards Luncheon Around the AIA + Center for Architecture
AutoPound in Queens, NY. Credit: Alex Severin.
Featured Member: Jane Smith Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Obama Presidential Center by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and InterActive Design Architects. Credit: Obama Foundation
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
"El Helicoide: From Mall to Prison" opens 05.09.17. Image credit: Pietro Paolini, 2012
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
The Medical University of South Carolina, Ashley River Tower, Charleston, SC. Credit: Frank Ooms.
Featured Member: Timothy Johnson Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Image courtesy pixabay
Policy Pulse: AIA Urges Policymakers to Keep Carbon Neutral Goals Policy Pulse
Students at IS 234 present their scale store models to their peers. / Image credit: Dustin Atlas
Store Design Program Engages Students in Real-World Design Problems Learning by Design
Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, Biloxi, MS. Credit: Francis Dzikowski.
Featured Member: Daria Pizzetta Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
The Arab City: Architecture and Representation
Oculus Book Review: The Arab City: Architecture and Representation Book Reviews
Never Built New York by Greg Golden and Sam Lubell
Oculus Quick-Take: Never Built New York Podcast
David Ginsberg, FAIA / Image credit: ©Alex Kaplan
In Memoriam: David l. (Dave) Ginsberg, FAIA (1932-2017) In Memoriam
75 Kenmare by Andre Kikoski Architect / Image credit: Redundant Pixel
In the News In The News
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
Summer House Winter House by Hayes Slade, on view in "Follies, Function & Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House.”
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
Library of the Gambelli School of Business, Fordham College at Lincoln Center, Fordham University, New York, New York. Credit: Roy Wright.
Featured Member: Kevin Hom Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
George Washington Bridge ADA Access Paths, New York North Side Plaza, New York, NY, and Fort Lee, NJ. Credit: ACME Digital.
Featured Member: Robert Eisenstat Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Star Apartments, Los Angeles. Credit: Iwan Baan.
Michael Maltzan, FAIA, Says Public Housing Must Anticipate the Future At the Center for Architecture
Michael Kimmelman, New York Times architecture critic, and Jeanne Gang, Founding Principal of Studio Gang. Credit: Center for Architecture.
Jeanne Gang and Michael Kimmelman Discuss Truth and Public Work in Architecture At the Center for Architecture
Photo credit: Thomas Habr via unsplash
Policy Pulse: AIA Releases Disaster Assistance Handbook Policy Pulse
Malcolm McLaren, founder of McLaren Engineering, receives proclamation from AIANY and Center for Architecture Executive Director Benjamin Prosky, Assoc. AIA.
AIANY Presents Proclamation to McLaren Engineering At the Center for Architecture
Al Hamra Tower, Kuwaut City, Kuwait. Credit: Tim Griffith.
Featured Member: Gary Haney Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Citicorp Center, 601 Lexington Avenue, to be renovated by Gensler.
In the News In The News
ASLA-NY 2017 Design Award winners are currently on view at the Center for Architecture.
Names in the News Names in the News
New Deadlines New Deadlines
“Follies, Function & Form: Imagining Olana’s Summer House,” through 04.22.17
On View On View
Classifieds Classifieds
World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus Interior, New York, NY. Credit: Peter Aaron.
Featured Member: Thomas Grassi Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Credit: Martin Falbisoner/Wikimedia.
Policy Pulse: 300 Architects, Advocates and Leaders Attend AIA Grassroots Conference Policy Pulse
Hugh Hardy at the New York Academy of Sciences. Credit: Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA.
Remembering New York Architect Hugh Hardy, FAIA (1931-2017) In Memoriam
Allie Mae Public Library, View of Story Hour Corner, New Orleans, LA. Photo: Courtesy of MDA Designgroup.
Featured Member: Elisabeth Martin Elevated to AIA College of Fellows Featured Member
Alex O'Briant takes the mic. Credit: Center for Architecture.
Busting Myths: How Can Social Research Impact Design? At the Center for Architecture
The TRA Studio-designed restoration of the façade of the New York Academy of Art (NYAA). Credit: TRA Studio.
In the News In The News