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Lydia Soo

Associate Professor Emerita of Architecture

Lydia M. Soo is a historian of architecture and architectural theory, specializing in the early modern period. 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 most recently the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art to write a new book entitled The Places and Spaces of Architectural Discourse in Restoration London, examining architectural knowledge production and its physical context following the Great Fire of 1666. Her first book, Wren's "Tracts" on Architecture and Other Writings, was published in 1998 and reissued in 2007 (Cambridge University Press). She 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 (2018), “Baroque Form Generation Practices: a historical study” in Quotation: What Does History Have in Store for Architecture Today? (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 (2013). Her 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, as well as spaces of oppression.

As faculty in 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 acted as adviser to doctoral students.  Soo received her Ph.D. in Architecture from Princeton University and her M.Arch. and B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she returned in 2003 to serve as the Laing Visiting Professor in Architecture.