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Gwendolyn Wright

Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University

Governing Board Member, SOF/Heyman, Columbia University (1991–1995)

Headshot of Gwendolyn Wright

Gwendolyn Wright is Professor of architecture at Columbia University where, in 1985, she was the first woman to receive tenure in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She also holds appointments in Columbia’s departments of history and art history. She received her M.Arch. and PhD. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. Academic awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Getty Fellowship, and election to the Society of American Historians which honors literary quality.

Wright has focused principally on American architecture and urbanism from the late-nineteenth century to the present day. She has also written extensively about transnational exchanges, especially colonial and more recent neo-colonial aspects of both modernism and historic preservation. She is the author of six books and scores of articles.

Her newest book is USA, part of the Modern Architectures in History series from Reaktion Books. USA recasts established ideas about American modernism by highlighting key shifts and conflicts about work, homes, and public life from 1865 to the present. Architecture and the entire built environment provide a matrix that interweaves social norms and individual imaginations, high art and popular culture, prevailing conditions and visions of change.

Since 2003 Professor Wright has also served as a host of the popular PBS television series, “History Detectives.” This program traces the dynamic processes and quandaries of historical investigations. Attracting professionals and the general public alike, the show reveals how historians track ideas and weigh conflicting evidence about what happened, why, and history’s implications for the present.