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Lydia Soo

Associate Professor Emerita of Architecture

Lydia M. Soo, a historian of architecture and architectural theory who specializes in the Early Modern Period, is an associate professor emerita of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She is internationally recognized for her work on the 17th century English architect Sir Christopher Wren. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation, and the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to write the book, The Places and Spaces of Architectural Discourse in Restoration London, which examines architectural knowledge production and its physical context following the Great Fire of 1666. Her first book was Wren’s “Tracts” on Architecture and Other Writings (Cambridge University Press, 1998; reissue edition, 2007). Soo has written articles examining specific problems of 17th-century culture, theory, architecture, urbanism, and maps. They include “The Architectural Setting of ‘Empire’: The English Experience of Ottoman Spectacle in the Late 17th Century and its Consequences” in The Dialectics of Orientalism in Early Modern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); “Baroque Form Generation Practices: A Historical Study” in Quotation: What Does History Have in Store for Architecture Today? (SAHANZ, 2017); and “A Baroque City?: London After the Great Fire of 1666” in Giambattista Nolli and Rome: Mapping the City before and after the Pianta Grande (Studium Urbis, 2013). Soo’s ongoing research addresses a range of topics: constructive geometry in Renaissance and Baroque architecture, early modern maps of London, early modern English architecture reassessed in relationship to pre-Orientalist knowledge of buildings in the Levant and beyond, and spaces of oppression.

At Taubman College, Soo taught courses focused on Renaissance and Baroque buildings and cities, mathematics in Baroque architecture, and the history of theory, as well as introductory courses on the history of architecture and on experiencing architecture. She also was an adviser to doctoral students. 

Soo received her PhD in architecture from Princeton University and her Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she returned in 2003 to serve as the Laing Visiting Professor in Architecture.