It is with profound grief and a heavy heart that I share this communication with my students, colleagues, and alumni of The Cooper Union. Today, we lost one of the most beloved and influential voices of our community, architect and Professor Diane H. Lewis.
Diane Lewis came to The Cooper Union as a student in the Art School in 1968, transferring to Architecture in 1970, and completing her studies in 1976. Immediately upon graduation, she was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture, making her one of the youngest members to be honored by the American Academy in Rome. Upon her return to the United States, Lewis joined the offices of Richard Meier and Partners and later, I. M. Pei and Partners where she received her early training – this, while also launching her teaching career. Initially a professor at the University of Virginia, Lewis went on to teach as a visitor in many respected programs including Yale University, the Technical University of Berlin, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and the University of Toronto, where she held the Frank Gehry Visiting Chair in 2006.
But it was here at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture that she planted her foundations as a radical and committed educator; Lewis was the first woman architect to be appointed to the full-time faculty, and later tenured in 1993. In an age when few dedicate themselves to teaching as a craft, her focus on creating a transformative space of learning will be a central part of her lasting legacy. Indeed, as much as Lewis was a product of Cooper Union, today we can look back at more than thirty years of her contributions and come to realize that we are, in fact, defined by the culture of her teaching.