Paul V. Turner named 2020 Fellow by Society of Architectural Historians

The Board of Directors names as Fellows of the Society of Architectural Historians individuals who have distinguished themselves by a lifetime of significant contributions to the field. These contributions may include scholarship, service to the Society, teaching and stewardship of the built environment. The 2020 Class of Fellows include Paul V. Turner, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Art and Art History.

A generous and inspiring teacher and scholar, Paul Venable Turner has contributed to the field of architectural history through award-winning scholarship, his influence on generations of students, and nearly fifty years of involvement with the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). He began his career working in architects’ offices—most notably Paul Rudolph’s and Kallmann & McKinnell’s—and he earned both an M.Arch. and a Ph.D. in art history from Harvard University.  His dissertation, The Education of Le Corbusier, led him to the architect’s library when it was still in crates at the nascent Fondation Le Corbusier. When it was published, his examination of Le Corbusier’s early intellectual and creative development was hailed as a groundbreaking achievement.

Since then, Paul’s research has bridged the Atlantic to include American architecture, combining meticulous archival research with an analysis of the built environment at multiple scales. His next major project, on campus design, coalesced in Campus: An American Planning Tradition, which the SAH recognized with the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award in 1987. The book became the foundational work on its subject, consulted by scholars in numerous fields and by architects, planners, and educators contending with contemporary campus design challenges. Paul’s campus research led to Joseph Ramée. International Architect of the Revolutionary Era, tracing the architect’s peripatetic career through Europe and the United States, where he designed Union College, Paul’s alma mater. Frank Lloyd Wright has also been one of Paul’s abiding interests. He recently published Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco and is now assembling an online database of Wright’s library.

Paul’s students have benefited from his stimulating and broad-minded approach to architectural history. In 1971, he began a thirty-five year career teaching courses in architectural history and urban design as a professor in the Department of Art History at Stanford University. Through his classes he reached thousands of students. Some changed fields as a result of his teaching and mentorship and many have gone on to successful careers in architecture, architectural history, historic preservation, and allied fields. A remarkably versatile and insightful scholar and teacher, Paul has contributed to the field of architectural history through a distinguished career that has spanned more than five decades. His induction as a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians is much deserved.

Katherine Solomonson
University of Minnesota