The legendary Yale architectural historian Vincent Scully, who had a profound impact on the world of architecture and the world at massive, including Chicago, died Thursday at 97.
Scully, a theatrical lecturer who influenced generations of Yale college students, including Maya Lin, architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was on the jury of consultants that in 1988 chosen Chicago architect Thomas Beeby’s postmodern design for the Harold Washington Library Heart — a selection that summed up his rejection of the modernist, steel-and-glass packing containers he had as soon as embraced.
Scully was a prolific scholar, churning out books on topics that ranged from Greek temples to shingle-sheathed American homes to the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright.
His survey of American architecture and urbanism comprises considered one of his most quoted strains, a commentary on the misplaced grandeur of New York’s destroyed Pennsylvania Station and the cramped facility that changed it: “By means of it one entered the town like a god. … One scuttles in now like a rat.”
The late architect Philip Johnson referred to as Scully “essentially the most influential architecture trainer ever.”
On Friday, Pauline Saliga, govt director of the Chicago-based Society of Architectural Historians, mentioned in a press release: “To say that Vincent Scully had a profound impact on the fields of architecture and architectural historical past can be an understatement. The 1000's of scholars who have been enthralled by his lectures at Yale by no means checked out a constructing the identical manner once more. They got here away with a brand new understanding concerning the visceral impact of properly-designed house on our our bodies and our minds.”
Scully died at his house in Lynchburg, Va., The Washington Publish reported Friday. He had Parkinson’s illness and lately suffered a coronary heart assault, his spouse advised the newspaper.
In the midst of his decadeslong profession, Scully was a public mental who did a lot to form the general public’s view of architecture, each by means of his lectures and his writings.
He championed the work of the postmodernist Philadelphia architect Robert Venturi, who in 1991 gained the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the sphere’s highest honor.
Later, he threw his mental weight behind the standard city planners, or new urbanists, who have been led by two of his former college students, Miami architects Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
Scully’s different notable college students additionally included the New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, whose One Bennett Park skyscraper is now being inbuilt Chicago, and Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-successful former architecture critic of The New York Occasions.
Born in New Haven, Conn., in 1920, Scully entered Yale at 16 and served within the Marine Corps throughout World Struggle II, rising to the rank of major. After the warfare, he returned to Yale as a graduate scholar in artwork historical past. Ultimately, he turned the college’s most acclaimed lecturer.
His lectures have been so widespread that they had to be held in Yale’s regulation faculty auditorium, which seated tons of. He forbade college students to take notes throughout his lectures, throughout which he would communicate passionately from the stage, wielding a big picket pointer and whacking it in opposition to an enormous display on which slide pictures have been displayed. (He as soon as ripped by means of the display along with his pointer.)
College students referred to as his lectures, which have been held earlier than lunchtime and in dim mild that allowed the lantern slides to be vividly seen, “Darkness at Midday.”
Initially, Scully championed fashionable architecture. However after watching the disruptive outcomes of the city renewal packages of the 1960s, he got here to assault modernism’s leaders, including the German-born Chicago architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, for “despising the construction of the standard metropolis” and “being decided to outrage it as a lot as potential of their particular person buildings.”
His books included “The Earth, The Temple, and the Gods” (1962), which examined sacred Greek buildings within the context of their landscapes; “The Shingle Model Right now” (1974), which renewed appreciation of 19th-century American homes with a steady sheathing of shingles; and “American Architecture and Urbanism” (1969), which included quite a few commentaries on buildings in Chicago.
Commenting on the Chicago Civic Heart (now the Richard J. Daley Heart), which was mainly designed by Jacques Brownson, Scully wrote:
“Brownson’s answer was ideally suited for the Civic Heart; the tensile stretch of his horizontal spans complemented the visually compressive vertical shafts of the columns of the previous City Hall subsequent door, and his horizontal voids their vertical solids, in order that the 2 buildings of very differing kinds get alongside splendidly collectively. It's high quality dialog between the generations and so a very urbanistic relationship.”
Writing within the 1993 version of the American Institute of Architects’ “Information to Chicago,” Scully praised the Harold Washington Library Heart for weaving collectively threads of the town’s architectural historical past, from the classicism of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 to the ironwork of Louis Sullivan’s former Carson Pirie Scott & Co. retailer.
The library, he wrote, is a “highly effective mass, constructed of the very bones and blood of Chicago, of the robust physique of the Loop and the traditional city gesture of its classical facade.”
After formally retiring from Yale, Scully taught on the University of Miami.
Scully’s two earlier marriages resulted in divorce. In accordance with the Publish, survivors embrace his spouse, Catherine Lynn of Lynchburg; three sons from his first marriage, Daniel Scully of Dublin, N.H., Stephen Scully of Boston and John Scully of Woodbridge, Conn.; a daughter from his second marriage, Katherine Scully of Tarrytown, N.Y.; 5 grandchildren; and one nice-granddaughter.
Blair Kamin is a Tribune critic.