Early life and education
Diane Lewis lived and works in Manhattan, where she was born.
Career in Architecture
Recipient of the 1976 Rome Prize in Architecture, she has sustained and unfolded the spirit of her education, which provided a firsthand participation in the lively interaction of the architect / theorists and art world of Italy, Germany and New York during the 1970s at Cooper Union, and at the American Academy in Rome.
This formative period of innovation and radical resistance cast a tone for her commitment and ability to sustain parallel activities in architectural practice while developing a unique platform on studio teaching, and a commitment to critical writing on architecture. All projects demonstrate the integration of a unique approach to “the architecture of the city.” This urban quality is key to the built work, and the approach to the design studios she has simultaneously conducted. Her knowledge and integration of the impact of the innovations and responsibility of the auteur artist is evident in all these endeavors.
A native New Yorker, Lewis is the first Cooper Architect to have been awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture. In 2008 she received the National Design Award from the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt in recognition of the first 25 years of her independent architectural practice. This award was coincident with the 2007 publication of the monograph of architectural work, entitled “DIANE LEWIS: INSIDE-OUT: Architecture New York City,” Chartabooks Milano/New York. The introduction was written by Richard Meier, with essays by Dean Vidler, Raimund Abraham, Carl Andre and Dan Sherer. Lewis also received the John Q. Hejduk award from The Cooper Union Alumni Association in 2006.
Diane Lewis Architects, New York was founded in 1983, after her formative experience in design and urban planning work at the office of Richard Meier from 1977-78, followed by six years at the office of I.M. Pei and Partners from 1978-83, under Jim Freed, as curtain wall and senior designer on 499 Park Avenue, MIT and the Jacob Javits Convention Center.
After teaching at Yale University from 1978-82 as Visiting Critic of Architecture, where she was selected to teach the Davenport Studio with John Hejduk in 1982, and the Davenport Studio with Frank Gehry in 1988 and 1989, Lewis returned from Yale to teach at Cooper Union by invitation of John Hejduk in 1982. She was the first woman architect appointed to the full time faculty. She is the task force director of the Urban Institute of the program. She received a Graham Foundation grant in 1989 for lectures and essays on Architecture and Surrealism, which were delivered as the Hilla Rebay Lecture at the Guggenheim Museum in 1995. She co-edited the “Education of An Architect,” Rizzoli, 1987, the work of the school from 1975-82.
During these 27 years while conducting design studios, as well as theory and history lectures at Cooper, Lewis has served on a wide range of international and Ivy League faculties: Harvard Graduate School of Design, Visiting Professor from 1992-96, Technical University of Berlin, Gastprofessor of Urban Design 1998-2000, Visiting Scholar at the Architectural Association in London, 1990, 1995-96, Forbes and Simpson Chairs at the University of Edinburgh, 1990 and 2004, where she was offered its Deanship, and Hyde Chair in Architectural Excellence, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2000.
Major Buildings and Projects
Atelier projects include constructed works and commissioned competition entries such as: a 2006 residence for the Dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Perlman Conservatory and campus for Paul Rudolph’s Riverview High School, Sarasota, Gauchos Basketball Foundation, Harlem, Kunsthalle, New York, IIT Student Union Competition 1997, New York Studio School, the HCK Charter School, San Antonio and art galleries such as Kent, Kasmin, Claude Bernard, American Fine Art and SPOT.
Work on the Cooper Union campus resulted in placing her office as finalist in two commissioned competitions; one among three finalists for the commission to build the Cooper Union Dormitory in 1989, and runner up for the Hewitt Building Renovation in 1987.
Press and Awards
Lewis was 2006 recipient of the Gehry International Chair in Design, University of Toronto, and the 2007 Brunner Grant from the AIA New York Chapter.