Vincent Scully
Scully in 1979
Born(1920-08-21)August 21, 1920
DiedNovember 30, 2017(2017-11-30) (aged 97)
EducationYale University (BA, MA, PhD)
OccupationArt historian
Employer(s)Yale University, University of Miami
Known forArchitectural teacher
Scully (right) at the National Building Museum hands over the 2005 Scully Prize to Prince Charles (left)

Vincent Joseph Scully Jr. (August 21, 1920 – November 30, 2017)[1] was an American art historian who was a Sterling Professor of the History of Art in Architecture at Yale University, and the author of several books on the subject. Architect Philip Johnson once described Scully as "the most influential architectural teacher ever."[2] His lectures at Yale were known to attract casual visitors and packed houses, and regularly received standing ovations. He was also the distinguished visiting professor in architecture at the University of Miami.[3]


Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Scully attended Hillhouse High School. At the age of 16, he entered Yale University. He earned his BA degree from Yale in 1940, his M.A. in 1947, and his PhD in 1949. At Yale, he was a member of the Elizabethan Club and a member of Jonathan Edwards College. He taught classes at Yale from 1947, often to packed lecture rooms.[4] He was also a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Miami.[5] Scully officially retired from Yale in 1991,[6] but continued giving courses there and at the University of Miami. He announced in 2009, however, at the age of 89, that he was no longer well enough to continue teaching.[7][8]

Scully's early advocacy was critical to the emergence of both Louis I. Kahn and Robert Venturi as important 20th-century architects. Scully was a fierce critic of the 1963 destruction of New York's original Pennsylvania Station, memorably writing of it that, "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat."[9] Scully was involved in the preservation of Olana, Frederic Church's home in upstate New York, publishing an article on its significance and endangerment in the May 1965 issue of Progressive Architecture.[10]

In 1983 Lorna Pegram produced and directed two films presented by Scully. The films were for the Met and WNET and based around art at the Met.[11]

Scully died on November 30, 2017, at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia, aged 97. The cause of death was complications of Parkinson's disease.[12]

Awards and honors

In 1952, Scully and his co-author Antoinette Downing won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Award for their book, The Architectural Heritage of Newport.[13]

In 1983, Scully delivered the annual A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art.

In 1986, Scully was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[14]

In 1993, Scully received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[15]

In 1995, the National Endowment for the Humanities chose Scully to deliver the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government's highest humanities honor.[16] His lecture was on the topic of "The Architecture of Community,"[17] a concept that became central to his architectural philosophy.[2]

In 1998, Scully was elected to the American Philosophical Society.[18]

In 1999, the Vincent Scully Prize was established by the National Building Museum to honor individuals who have exhibited exemplary practice, scholarship or criticism in architecture, historic preservation and urban design. Scully himself was the first honoree.[19]

In 2003 the Urban Land Institute awarded Scully its J.C. Nichols Prize for Visionary Urban Development.[20]

In 2004, President George W. Bush presented Scully with the National Medal of Arts, the United States' highest honor for artists and arts patrons.[2][21] The medal citation read: "For his remarkable contributions to the history of design and modern architecture, including his influential teaching as an architectural historian."[22]

In 2010 the Congress for the New Urbanism awarded Scully its Athena Medal.[23]

Major publications

A collection of lectures by and about Professor Scully is available at



  1. ^ "National Building Museum". Archived from the original on 2015-03-29. Retrieved 2015-03-07.
  2. ^ a b c Richard Conniff, "The Patriarch," Archived 2009-05-17 at the Wayback Machine Yale Alumni Magazine, March/April 2008.
  3. ^ Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. pp. 586. ISBN 9780415252256.
  4. ^ Vincent J. Scully at Yale University Department of the History of Art website (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  5. ^ Vincent Scully at University of Miami School of Architecture website (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  6. ^ "Mr. Scully's Architecture Class Is Dismissed"
  7. ^ "With apologies, a legendary lecturer steps down"
  8. ^ "Professor Vincent Scully Retires"
  9. ^ Herbert Muschamp, "Architecture View; In This Dream Station Future and Past Collide," The New York Times, June 20, 1993.
  10. ^ Schuyler, David (2016). "Saving Olana" (PDF). The Hudson River Valley Review. 32 (2): 2–26.
  11. ^ "BBC Two England - 18 September 1983 - BBC Genome". Retrieved 2020-10-03.
  12. ^ Richard B. Woodward, "Vincent Scully, 97, Influential Architecture Historian", The New York Times, December 1, 2017.
  13. ^ Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award Winner History at Society of Architectural Historians website (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  14. ^ "Vincent J. Scully". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  15. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  16. ^ James Barron, "Chronicle," New York Times, May 15, 1995.
  17. ^ Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved February 6, 2009),
  18. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2021-12-08.
  19. ^ Vincent Scully Prize Archived 2009-02-14 at the Wayback Machine at National Building Museum website (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  20. ^ "Scully honored for shaping the vision of urban planners," Yale Bulletin & Calendar, September 26, 2003 (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  21. ^ "Scully is awarded National Medal of Arts at White House ceremony," Yale Bulletin & Calendar, December 3, 2004 (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  22. ^ "2004 National Medal of Arts: Vincent Scully" at National Endowment for the Arts website (retrieved February 6, 2009).
  23. ^ amckeag (2015-06-11). "Athena Medals". CNU. Retrieved 2022-06-25.