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Lori Smithey

Current Student—Ph.D in Architecture

Lori Smithey

Specialization: History and Theory
Research Interests: Literature and architecture, environmental histories, and interiors
Dissertation: Decadence: An Architectural Genealogy of Material, Style, and Lateness
Committee: Amy Kulper, Howard Lay, John McMorrough, Diana Periton, Charles Rice

Lori Smithey is a PhD candidate in the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Her dissertation constructs a genealogical narrative that connects architecture and design in fin-de-siècle France, postmodern America, and global contemporary digital practices through an intellectual history of decadence. Despite the continued cultural currency of the term decadence, it remains tethered to late-nineteenth century French literature within academia and little work has examined the ways in which decadence has a long-standing connection to conceptions of the built environment – from Vitruvius to Eisenman. Her research views decadence through protracted socio-cultural histories and asks: How one form of decadence comes to supplant another? What are the attendant themes of decadence that persist across these ostensible successions? And, how does the discipline of architecture rearticulate such themes as its values shift? She holds an MS in Architectural History and Theory from the University of Washington, Seattle and a BArch from Cooper Union in New York.


  • PhD Program Doctoral Student Award (2017)
  • Sweetland Junior Writing Fellow, University of Michigan (2017)
  • Rackham International Research Award, University of Michigan (2016)
  • Charles Moore Foundation, Residency, Austin, TX (2015)


  • “Caricature to Cabinet: Edmond de Goncourt’s Narratives of Self and Home” CAA Annual Conference, Los Angeles, February 21-24, 2018.
  •  “From Supergraphics to Superobjects: Confounding Scales, Situating Subjects” Imagined Forms: Modeling and Material Culture, November 17-18, 2017.
  • “Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral: Citing the Loss of Citation” SAHANZ Annual Conference, Canberra, July 5-8, 2017.
  • “Spectacles of Innocence: Denaturing Identities of Gender, Race and Age in the Houses of Charles Moore” Architectural Humanities Research Association: “Architecture and Feminisms” KTH, Stockholm, November 17-19, 2016
  • “Sacre Coeur: Monument Of / Against Decadence” The Medium and the Message: Re-evaluating Form and Meaning in European Architecture c. 1400-1950, University of Birmingham, UK, July 1-2, 2016
  • “Edmond de Goncourt and Aesthetic Distanciation” Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium, UPR, San Juan, Oct. 16-18, 2014


  •  “Philip Johnson’s Crystal Cathedral: Citing the Loss of Citation” Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand Proceedings (2017).
  •  “Ralph Adams Cram: Subverting the Collapse of Social and Artistic Value,” Column 5 Journal of Architecture vol. 24 (2011).