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Anthony Vidler (1941-2023)

The American Academy in Berlin mourns the passing of Anthony Vidler, renowned architect, architectural theorist, historian, and longtime Academy trustee and member of our Selection Committee. He passed away on October 20 at age 82.

A faculty member of Princeton University’s School of Architecture from 1965 to 1993, Vidler served as the first director of the school’s History and Theory PhD program and was foundational in its formation. He also served as the William R. Kenan Jr. Chair of Architecture, chair of the PhD committee, and director of the Program in European Cultural Studies. Following thirty years at Princeton, Vidler went on to serve as dean of the College of Art, Architecture, and Planning at Cornell University, chair of the Department of Art History at UCLA, and later as the Dean of the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union. He returned to Princeton’s School of Architecture as a visiting professor from 2014 until his passing, and he continued to teach as a visiting professor at Cooper Union. All told, Vidler spent more than a half century as a leader in architectural scholarship, shaping the field of study and influencing the lives and careers of countless students.

He grew up in Essex, England, where at an early age he was drawn to historic buildings. A school trip to Venice when Vidler was a teenager inspired him to a lifetime studying architecture. After earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture at Cambridge University, he went on to earn a PhD in Architectural History and Theory at Delft University of Technology, specializing in modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism.

Vidler was an extraordinary scholar and prolific writer whose works include The Writing of the Walls: Architectural Theory in the Late Enlightenment (Princeton Architectural Press, 1987), Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Architecture and Social Reform at the End of the Ancien Regime (MIT Press, 1990), which received the Henry-Russell Hitchcock Award from the Society of Architectural Historians, The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely (MIT Press, 1992), Warped Space: Architecture and Anxiety in Modern Culture (MIT Press, 2000), Histories of the Immediate Present: The Invention of Architectural Modernism (MIT Press, 2008), James Frazer Stirling: Notes from the Archive (Yale University Press, 2010), and The Scenes of the Street and other Essays (Monacelli Press, 2011).

Throughout his career, Vidler won accolades from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, among many others.

Fall 2016 Academy fellow and architectural historian Esra Akcan, of Cornell, told the university’s press department, “One of the most influential architectural historians of our time, Tony Vidler was an important authority on Ledoux and Stirling, and he informed epoch-making debates around different ideas about architectural typology and morphology, the uncanny, surveillance, and postwar historiography,”

The American Academy in Berlin extends its heartfelt condolences to Anthony Vidler’s family, friends, and professional peers. He will be dearly missed.

Photo: William Staffeld / Cornell University School of Art, Architecture, and Planning

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