Go to navigation (press enter key)

Nicholas Adams Professor of Art on the Mary Conover Mellon Chair

Nicholas Adams joined the Vassar College faculty in 1989. Prior to that he was professor in the history of architecture at Lehigh University.

Mr. Adams received his AB at Cornell University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. He is the recipient of numerous grants most notably as a member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and was a fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He has been a visiting professor at the GSD (Harvard University), the University of Rome and the University of Bologna.

His books include History and the Texture of Modern Life: Selected Essays of Lucy Maynard Salmon (1853-1927), edited with Bonnie Smith (2001) and he edited two volumes of The Architectural Drawings of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and His Circle (1994, 2000). His book, Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in Sixteenth Century Siena co-authored with Simon Pepper (1986) has been translated into Italian. More recently he published the first independently authored history of the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill: SOM since 1936 (Italian edition, 2006; English edition 2007). Both an institutional history and a history of architecture, the book tells how SOM developed into one of the largest and most important architectural practices in the world. In 2013 he curated an exhibition and edited a catalogue dedicated to notable books in the history of architecture at Vassar College entitled The Architect’s Library. Exhibition and catalogue developed from a seminar in the Art Department. With Francis Kowsky and Amy Pickard he was responsible for an exhibition and catalogue of architectural books in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library entitled Building Buffalo (2017–2018) that has sought to recapture an aspect of the city’s extraordinary architectural heritage. With Electa (Milan) he published an overview of the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund (2011) and published a study of Gunnar Asplund’s Law Court addition in Gothenburg, Sweden (1934-1937) entitled Gunnar Asplund’s Gothenburg: The Transformation of Public Architecture in Interwar Europe (2014). He is currently writing a biographical study of the architect Gordon Bunshaft (2019).

He serves on the editorial board of the Italian architectural magazine Casabella where he is a frequent contributor and is a member of the comitato scientifico of the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Architettura Andrea Palladio, Vicenza. He has served as editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. His articles on contemporary architecture have appeared in magazines such as Architectural Record, Arkitektur (Stockholm), Building Design (London), the German magazine, Detail, and SOM Journal. He is also active as a public lecturer in the field of architectural history.

  • AB, Cornell University; AM, PhD, New York University
  • At Vassar since 1989


Departments and Programs


Download images for non-commercial use, photo credit required.

Photo: Katie de Heras ’13 / Miscellany News