Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of 19th Century European Art
After completing an A.B. at Harvard University, David Brownlee remained there to earn his A.M. and Ph.D. A member of the Department of History of Art faculty at Penn since 1980, he was promoted to full professor in 1993. Prior to his appointment as department chair, Brownlee served as the department’s undergraduate chairman from 1984 to 1989 and as chairman of the graduate group in the history of art from 1991 to 1997 and from 2012 to 2015. He remains a member of the latter and is a member of the graduate group in architecture and the program faculty in historic preservation as well.
Brownlee, who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century architecture and urbanism, was recognized with a College Alumni Society Outstanding Teaching Award in 1997, and a Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2001. His commitment to the University includes service on over 120 academic committees such as Design Review, Cultural Resources, Undergraduate Education, and the Faculty Grievance Commission. Brownlee oversaw the design and implementation of the successful College House system and was its first director from 1998 to 2002. He co-chaired the building committee for the comprehensive renovation of the College Houses from 1998 to 2005 and he served as the faculty master at Harnwell College House from 1998 to 2005.
A scholar of international distinction, Brownlee is the only winner of three major publications prizes from the American Society of Architectural Historians and is the only American to win the book prize of its British counterpart. He has also received honors such as a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a senior fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art.
Brownlee is currently at work on his tenth book, Modern Means and Modern Meanings: An Intellectual and Social History of Nineteenth-Century Architecture. His earlier publications include the prize-winning books Louis I. Kahn and The Law Courts, as well as a comprehensive architectural history of Penn, Building America’s First University: An Historical and Architectural Guide to the University of Pennsylvania, with George E. Thomas.
Brownlee has been the guest curator of several international traveling exhibitions including Out of the Ordinary: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates: Architecture, Urbanism, and Design. He has served on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Society of Architectural Historians and edited its publication, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He was a member of the Philadelphia Historical Commission for 15 years and served a term on the Historic Preservation Board of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.