Democracy Dies in Darkness

Obituaries

Vincent Scully, Yale scholar who explored architecture’s humanizing force, dies at 97

December 1, 2017 at 5:48 PM

Vincent Scully in 1966. (Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post)

For Vincent Scully, architecture wasn't just about buildings. In more than six decades as a Yale University professor, he became known as the foremost architectural historian of his time and exerted a profound influence on how the wider public understands the purpose of architecture.

Even though Dr. Scully was not a trained architect, dozens of renowned architects studied with him, prompting one of the field's elder statesmen, Philip Johnson, to call him "the most influential architecture teacher ever."

In more than a dozen books and thousands of lectures that were an awe-inspiring form of performance art, Dr. Scully sought to impart several central ideas: that buildings help define a culture, that architecture should be a humanizing force and that a well-built community can foster a well-lived life.

Dr. Scully died Nov. 30 at his home in Lynchburg, Va. He was 97.

He had Parkinson's disease and recently had a heart attack, said his wife, Catherine W. Lynn. He had lived in Lynchburg, his wife's home town, for six years.

Vincent Scully in 1995 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was designed by his former student, Maya Lin. (Frank Johnston/The Washington Post)

Hardly a cloistered academic, Dr. Scully influenced the ideas of people as varied as historian David McCullough, designer Maya Lin and thousands of urban planners around the world. He helped popularize the historic preservation movement and was the spiritual father of New Urbanism, a school of design that promotes architecture on a human scale by, in effect, looking toward the past to build the future.

"Scully was as much critic and activist as historian, a public intellectual interested in the present as much as the past," Keith Eggener, a University of Oregon historian of architecture, wrote in the online Places Journal in 2015. "He played a seminal role in defining the character of architectural history during the second half of the 20th century, and ultimately had as much impact on designers as on scholars."

Dr. Scully began teaching at Yale in 1947. Before long, his introductory course in art history was so popular that it had to be moved to the law school, which had the only lecture hall large enough to accommodate as many as 400 students at a time. He included architecture as a component of art history, along with painting and sculpture.

The lights were lowered in the hall at 11:30 a.m., when Dr. Scully began his lecture, accompanied by photographic slides. Inevitably, students dubbed the class "Darkness at Noon."

Dr. Scully, who considered his lectures his greatest creative achievements, spent a full day preparing for each class, even late into his career. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1966 as one of the country's finest college teachers and was later profiled in the New Yorker.

Early in his career, Dr. Scully shared the conventional view that architects were heroic artists of material and space, imposing an almost godlike vision on the world.

In a 2008 interview with the Yale Alumni Magazine, he recalled a conversation he once had with Frank Lloyd Wright, the renowned architect who developed his linear Prairie Style of architecture in the first decade of the 20th century: "He said, 'Son, architecture began when I began building houses out there on the prairie.' What a confidence man, what a crook!"

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, the first female pitcher in the Negro leagues, died on Dec. 18. Read the obituary: Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson, hard-throwing woman in baseball’s Negro leagues, dies at 82
Grammy-winning singer Keely Smith, shown with Frank Sinatra, died Dec. 16 at a nursing home in Palm Springs, Calf. She was 89. Read the obituary: Keely Smith, nightclub singing sensation with husband Louis Prima, dies at 89
Kazimierz Piechowski was an early Auschwitz prisoner who led a risky escape. In 2011, he said, “We just planned that I would play the role of an SS officer so well that the guards would believe me.” He died at age 98 on Dec. 15. Read the obituary: Kazimierz Piechowski, early Auschwitz prisoner who led a risky escape by car, dies at 98
Award-winning African American journalist Simeon Booker, who brought national attention to the killing of Emmett Till, died Dec. 10 in Solomon, Md. Read the obituary: Simeon Booker, intrepid chronicler of civil rights struggle for Jet and Ebony, dies at 99
John B. Anderson, an Illinois Republican who cultivated a freethinking reputation during his 20 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and mounted a serious third-party bid for the White House in 1980, died Dec. 3 at a retirement home in Washington. He was 95. Read the obituary: John B. Anderson, fiery third-party candidate in 1980 presidential race, dies at 95
American University law professor Perry Wallace was the first black basketball player in the Southeastern Conference when he starred at Vanderbilt University in the 1960s. He died Dec. 1 at a hospice in Rockville, Md. He was 69. Read the obituary: Perry Wallace, first black basketball player in Southeastern Conference, dies at 69
Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle on TV’s “The Andy Griffith Show,” died Nov. 30 at 87. Nabors became an instant success when he joined “The Andy Griffith Show” in the early 1960s. The character of Gomer Pyle, the unworldly, lovable gas pumper who would exclaim “Gollllll-ly!” proved so popular that in 1964 CBS starred him in “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” Read the obituary: Jim Nabors, who played TV’s hapless hayseed Gomer Pyle, dies at 87
David Cassidy, former lead singer and child star of “The Partridge Family,” performs at the Warner Theatre in Washington in 2002. Read the obituary: David Cassidy, 1970s teen idol who starred on ‘The Partridge Family,’ dies at 67
Della Reese sings during a festival in Detroit in 2001. Read the obituary: Della Reese, singer and actress who starred on television’s “Touched by an Angel,” dies at age 86
Charles Manson is escorted to court in Los Angeles during the arraignment phase of his trial. Authorities say Manson, cult leader and mastermind behind the 1969 deaths of actress Sharon Tate and several others, died Nov. 19. Read the obituary: Charles Manson, cult leader and murder-rampage mastermind who terrified nation, dies at 83
Mel Tillis performs onstage at 2011 Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 30, 2011, in Indio, Calif. Tillis died Nov 19 in Ocala, Fla., at age 85. Read the obituary: Mel Tillis, stuttering country star whose music spoke pristinely, dies at 85
Liz Smith, center, seen with Ivana Trump, right, was a gossip columnist who dished on the boldfaced-name set. She died on Nov. 12 in New York at 94. Read the obituary: Liz Smith, gossip columnist who dished on the boldfaced-name set, dies at 94
Malcolm Young, the rhythm guitarist and guiding force behind the bawdy hard rock band AC/DC who helped create such head-banging anthems as “Highway to Hell,” “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black,” died at 64. Read the obituary: AC/DC founding member Malcolm Young dead at 64
Singer, composer and pianist Fats Domino, shown in 1956, influenced early rock-and-roll and dominated R&B charts in the late 1950s. He died Oct. 24 at age 89. Read the obituary: Fats Domino, boogie-woogie pianist who helped launch rock-and-roll
Actor Robert Guillaume, shown here in 1991, won Emmy Awards for his roles on “Soap” and “Benson.” He died Oct. 24 in Los Angeles at age 89. Guillaume’s widow, Donna Brown Guillaume, says he had been battling prostate cancer. Read the obituary: Robert Guillaume, star of hit sitcom ‘Benson,’ dies at 89
Tom Petty, performing here at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., in 2006, has died at age 66. Petty died Oct. 2 at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after he suffered cardiac arrest. Read the obituary: Tom Petty, Hall of Fame singer who became rock mainstay in 1970s, dies at 66
Hugh Hefner poses with Playboy bunnies at the Playboy Club in Los Angeles in 1986. Hefner, who founded Playboy magazine in 1953, died at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on Sept. 27. Read the obituary: Hugh Hefner, visionary editor who founded Playboy magazine dies at 91
Jake LaMotta, right, fights Marcel Cerdan at Briggs Stadium in Detroit on June 16, 1949. LaMotta, whose life was depicted in the film “Raging Bull,” died Sept. 19. He was 95. Read the obituary: Jake LaMotta, ‘Raging Bull’ of boxing, dies at 95
Author Lillian Ross in New York’s Central Park in 1997. The New Yorker journalist died Sept. 20. Read the obituary: Lillian Ross, New Yorker journalist who helped create the nonfiction novel, dies at 99
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, whose quick-witted insults and promotional antics made him one of the most popular figures in pro wrestling, died Sept. 17. He was 72. Read the obituary: Bobby Heenan, quick-witted promoter of the bad boys of wrestling, dies at 72
Actor Harry Dean Stanton, shown in 2006, was known for roles in “Paris, Texas,” “Repo Man” and “Big Love,” among other TV and film appearances. He died Sept. 15. Read the obituary: Harry Dean Stanton, actor who excelled at playing losers and eccentrics, dies at 91
Edith Windsor greets a crowd outside the Supreme Court after arguments in her case against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. She died Sept. 12. Read the obituary: Edith Windsor, who led fight for federal benefits for same-sex couples, dies at 88
Feminist activist Kate Millett, right, laughs during a birthday party for her niece in New York on May 21, 1979. Millett, the activist, artist and educator whose best-selling “Sexual Politics” was a landmark of cultural criticism, died Sept. 7 at age 82. Read the obituary: Kate Millett, ‘high priestess’ of second-wave feminism, dies at 82
Comedian Jerry Lewis is shown in the projection and cutting room of his home in Hollywood on July 29, 1960, He died Aug. 20 at age 91. Read the obituary: Jerry Lewis, comedy king and master of slapstick, dies at 91.
Dick Gregory, who spent his life as a comedian and an uncompromising advocate for a variety of causes, including civil rights and healthier living, died Aug. 19 at age 84. Read the obituary: Dick Gregory, cutting-edge satirist and uncompromising activist, dies at 84.
Country star and guitar prodigy Glen Campbell is seen performing in 1987. Campbell died at age 81 on Aug. 8 in Nashville. Read the obituary: Glen Campbell, clean-cut country star and crossover hitmaker, dies at 81. Photos: Remembering superstar entertainer Glen Campbell
Actress Barbara Cook in a scene from “The Gay Life,” at the Shubert Theater in New York in 1962. She died Aug. 8 at her home in Manhattan at age 89. Read the obituary: Barbara Cook, luminous singer of Broadway stage, dies at 89
Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian, center, poses in 1969 with Joe Theismann, left, and Mike McCoy. Parseghian, who restored the Notre Dame football program to glory, died Aug. 2 at his home in Granger, Ind. He was 94. Read the obituary: Ara Parseghian, who won two national football titles at Notre Dame, dies at 94
Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Oscar-nominated actor and celebrated author, died of complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease, on July 27. He was 73. Read the obituary: Sam Shepard, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated actor, dies at 73
French film actress Jeanne Moreau poses in London in 1962, shortly after her arrival from Paris. Moreau died July 31 at age 89. Read the obituary: Jeanne Moreau, spellbinding movie star, dies at 89
Jim Vance, a broadcast stalwart at WRC-TV (Channel 4) in Washington, who was among the first black anchors in a major media market, died at 75 after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. Photos: Jim Vance, longtime Washington, D.C. news anchor (1942-2017) Read the obituary: Jim Vance dies at 75
Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, shown accepting his award for Best Supporting Actor in “Ed Wood” at the 1995 Academy Awards, died July 15 at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 89. His seven-decade career featured work with directors Alfred Hitchcock, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Tim Burton. Read the obituary: Martin Landau, Oscar-winning actor who played heroes and villains, dies at 89
Bob Wolff, a Hall of Fame sportscaster, died July 15 in South Nyack, N.Y. He was 96. Wolff, right, is pictured with New York Yankee Roger Maris during spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1962. Wolff spent more than 75 years as the voice of professional athletic events. Read the obituary: Bob Wolff, Hall of Fame sportscaster of astonishing longevity, dies at 96.
George Romero, a pioneering horror-film director who made zombie movies, died July 16 at a care facility in Toronto. He was 77. Romero shot the first of his five zombie films, the groundbreaking “Night of the Living Dead,” about five decades ago. Read the obituary: George Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ director, dies at 77.
Christopher Wong Won, a.k.a., Fresh Kid Ice, a founding member of the Miami hip-hop group 2 Live Crew, died July 13 at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami. He was 53. The group gained fame in the 1980s and ’90s for its Miami bass sound and legal challenges over its sexually explicit lyrics. Its 1990 album “Banned in the USA” was the first to be sold with a “parental advisory” label warning about its content. Read the obituary: Christopher Wong Won, a founding member of 2 Live Crew, dies at 53
In this image taken from a July 2008 video, footage by AP Video, Liu Xiaobo is interviewed at a park in Beijing. The judicial bureau in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang says jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died of multiple organ failure on July 13. Read the obituary: Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize laureate imprisoned in China, dies at 61
Helmut Kohl, the West German politician who helped reunify Germany, died June 16 at his home in Ludwigshafen. He was 87. Kohl is shown in 1990 waving to the thousands of East Germans who gathered at Peace Square for an election rally. Read the obituary: Helmut Kohl, German statesman who united his country after Cold War, dies at 87
Former D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), a bow-tied activist who became a force for tenant’s rights and constituent services in a quickly gentrifying city, died June 15 at age 71. Read the obituary: Former D.C. Council member Jim Graham has died
Adam West, who portrayed the superhero Batman in a wildly popular television show in the 1960s and who seemed trapped in the character’s cape and tights for the rest of his career, died June 9 in Los Angeles. He was 88. Photos: Actor Adam West, TV’s original Batman (1928–2017) Read the obituary: Adam West, the actor forever known as TV’s Batman, dies at 88
Panamanian strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, 83, died May 30. Here, he waves to supporters in 1988 at the presidential palace in Panama City. He was removed from power by the United States the following year. See more photos: Manuel Antonio Noriega, former Panama strongman (1934-2017). Read the obituary.
Singer and musician Gregg Allman, 69, died May 27 at his home in Savannah, Ga. For decades, Allman was the frontman of the Allman Brothers Band, a pioneering but conflict-ridden blues-rock collective that modeled its guitar runs on the melodies of Brahms and performed instrumental jams inspired by the improvisational jazz greats Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Read the obituary: Gregg Allman, Southern rock heavyweight of Allman Brothers fame, dies at 69
Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, who went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85. A Kentucky Republican, he was the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to serve in Congress. He spent 16 seasons in Major League Baseball and served in both the U.S. House and Senate from 1987-2011. Read the obituary: Hall of Fame pitcher and former U.S. senator Jim Bunning dies at 85
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the combative, visionary foreign policy intellectual who helped bring Jimmy Carter to the White House in 1976 and then guided him through international crises that contributed significantly to Carter’s defeat at the polls four years later, died May 26. He was 89. Read the obituary: Zbigniew Brzezinski, foreign policy intellectual who served as Carter’s national security adviser, dies
British actor Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven films, is seen on location in England in 1972. He died May 23 from cancer. Read the obituary: Roger Moore, suave actor who held James Bond role the longest, dies at 89
Socialite-actress Dina Merrill models the gown she wore at the Academy Awards presentation in Los Angeles in 1962. Merrill, a rebellious heiress who defied her super-rich parents to become an actress, died May 22 at age 93. Read the obituary: Dina Merrill, actress and philanthropist of aristocratic poise, dies at 93
The longtime chairman and chief executive of the Fox News Channel who made it a politically influential powerhouse, until his abrupt ouster last year on sexual harassment allegations, died May 18 at age 77. Read the obituary: Roger Ailes, architect of conservative juggernaut Fox News, is dead at 77
The co-founder and frontman of Soundgarden and a key figure in the grunge rock movement died May 17 after playing a show in Detroit with the Grammy-winning Seattle band. He was 52. Read the obituary: Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, a founding father of grunge, dead at 52
Erin Moran, the former child star who played Joanie Cunningham in the sitcoms “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” died April 22. She was 56. Read the obituary: Erin Moran, actress from ‘Happy Days’ TV show, dies at 56
Former Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, was found dead after hanging himself in his prison cell. He was 27. Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots star, hangs himself in prison
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African American woman to serve on New York’s highest court and the first female Muslim judge in the country, was found dead in the Hudson River on April 12. She was 65. Sheila Abdus-Salaam, first female Muslim judge in the U.S., found dead in Hudson River
Don Rickles, shown in 1977. The irrepressible master of the comic insult whose humor was a fast-paced, high-volume litany of mockery in which members of his audience were the (usually) willing victims of his verbal assaults, died April 6 at his home Los Angeles. He was 90. Read the obituary: Don Rickles, lightning-fast launcher of comic insults, dies at 90 Photos: Legendary comic Don Rickles
Roger W. Wilkins, an assistant attorney general in the Johnson administration, later composed Pulitzer Prize-winning editorials about the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post and wrote about being a black man in a position of influence. Here, Wilkins is shown with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Read the obituary: Roger Wilkins, civil rights champion in government and journalism, dies at 85
The host of “The Gong Show” and the creative force behind “The Dating Game,” “The Newlywed Game” and many other game shows that were precursors to current reality programs died March 21 in Palisades, N.Y. He was 87. Chuck Barris, host of ‘The Gong Show’ who wildly claimed to be a CIA assassin, dead at 87
David Rockefeller Sr., the heir to a vast and storied family fortune who, as president, chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, transformed a listless business into one of the world’s largest financial institutions, died March 20 at his home in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. He was 101. Read the obituary: David Rockefeller Sr., steward of family fortune and Chase Manhattan Bank, dies at 101
Jimmy Breslin, long the gruff and rumpled king of street-wise New York newspaper columnists, a Pulitzer Prize winner whose muscular, unadorned prose pummeled the venal, deflated the pompous and gave voice to ordinary city dwellers for decades, died March 19 at his home in Manhattan. He was 88. Read the obituary: Columnist Jimmy Breslin, bard of the New York streets, dies at 88
Chuck Berry, the perpetual wild man of rock music who helped define its rebellious spirit in the 1950s and was the sly poet laureate of songs about girls, cars, school and even the “any old way you choose it” vitality of the music itself, died March 18 at his home in St. Charles County, Mo. He was 90. Photos: The career of rock-and-roll legend Chuck Berry (1926-2017) Read the obituary: Chuck Berry, wild man of rock who helped define its rebellious spirit, dies at 90
Principal host of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne, author of “80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards,” is shown in 2009. He died March 6 at his home in New York at age 84. Read the obituary: Robert Osborne, Turner Classic Movies host and film historian, dies at 84
WWDC’s talks show personality Fred Fiske, shown in 1976, had the longest-running career in Washington radio history. He died March 2 at a hospice center in Columbus, Ohio. He was 96. Read the obituary: Fred Fiske, Washington radio personality for six decades, dies at 96
Prolific and charismatic actor Bill Paxton, who played an astronaut in “Apollo 13” and a treasure hunter in “Titanic,” died Feb. 25 from complications due to surgery. He was 61. Read the obituary: Family representative: ‘Titanic’ actor Bill Paxton has died
Judge Joseph A. Wapner of the TV program “The People's Court” helped spawn an entire genre of courtroom-based reality television. The flinty, folksy retired California judge died Feb. 26 in Los Angeles of an unknown cause. He was 97. Read the obituary: Joseph Wapner, judge on ‘The People’s Court,’ dies at 97
Norma McCorvey, left, who was 22, unwed, mired in addiction and poverty, and desperate for a way out of an unwanted pregnancy when she became Jane Roe, the pseudonymous plaintiff of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to an abortion, died Feb. 18 at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Tex. She was 69. Photos: Remembering Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade (1947–2017) Read the obituary: Norma McCorvey dies at 69
Singer Al Jarreau, holding his 1982 Grammy awards for best pop male vocalist and best jazz male vocalist, died Feb. 12 at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 76. Read his obituary: Al Jarreau, seven-time Grammy-winning singer, dies at 76
Mary Tyler Moore, one of television’s finest comedic actresses known for her roles in two of the most popular sitcoms of all time, “The Dick Van Dyke Show” in the 1960s and her eponymous 1970s show, died at 80 on Jan. 25. See photos of her life. Read the obituary: Mary Tyler Moore, TV star who became a symbol of women’s liberation, dies at 80
William Peter Blatty, author and producer of the Warner Bros. film version of his best-selling novel “The Exorcist,” is shown in 1980. He died on Jan. 12. Read his obit: William Peter Blatty, author of ‘The Exorcist,’ dies at 89
Clare Hollingworth, a war correspondent who scooped the world on the start of World War II, died on Jan. 10 at 105. Read her obit: Clare Hollingworth, reporter who broke news about start of World War II, dies at 105 See more photos
Former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, shown in 2013, died on Jan. 8. Read his obit: Iran’s former president, set to play key role in selecting next supreme leader, dies
Photo Gallery: Remembering those who died in 2017.

Dr. Scully admired some of the buildings by Wright and other towering giants of modern architecture, including Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, but he began to see an emptiness at the core of their designs.

What they lacked, Dr. Scully concluded, was the human touch. He began to teach that architecture was about more than pure design. Its purpose was not to burnish the ego of the architect but to provide humane and beautiful places for community life to flourish.

Practically alone among architectural scholars of the time, Dr. Scully began to emphasize the importance of the past. In his lectures, he stalked the stage, using a long wooden pointer to direct attention to images of Greek temples, the Sistine Chapel, French formal gardens, American Indian dwellings, New England town squares and Italian villages.

He delivered his lectures in a seamless, grammatically perfect monologue, without using notes. Once, he reportedly slipped off the stage in mid-lecture, only to bounce up without missing a word of his commentary.

"Scully was astounding," architect Alexander Gorlin told Places Journal in 2015. "He commanded the audience, mesmerizing everyone with his language and intonation. He was preacher, magician, and conjurer."

Among the buildings Dr. Scully spoke about in his class was Pennsylvania Station, the monumental train terminal on the West Side of Manhattan that welcomed millions of travelers to New York City for more than 50 years. Its demolition in the 1960s gave rise to historic preservation, which Dr. Scully called the most important architectural movement in his lifetime.

"The preservation movement started, like many of the movements in human life," he wrote in his 1996 essay "The Architecture of Community," "with a great martyr: the mindless destruction of Penn Station in 1963."

Dr. Scully had traveled through Penn Station as a Marine and later as a globe-trotting professor, and his experience gave his writing a personal, impassioned fire.

"During World War II," he wrote, "how many times our emotions were stirred by coming into the city via that wonderful station, that great forest of steel. As we moved forward, all of a sudden the steel was clothed with the glory of public space — not private space, but public space for everyone. It all disappeared."

His conclusion was a final thrust of the dagger:

"Once, we entered the city like gods. Now we scurry in like rats, which is probably what we deserve."

When Dr. Scully reached Yale's mandatory retirement age of 70, his final lecture was featured on the front page of the New York Times. Architects and Yale alumni attended from around the world.

For many students, Dr. Scully's class proved to be an avenue to personal and professional discovery. McCullough, the best-selling historian and biographer, who went to Yale in the 1950s, said Dr. Scully encouraged him to see the Brooklyn Bridge as a work of art, rather than as a utilitarian structure. That insight led to one of McCullough's first books, "The Great Bridge" (1972).

Two of Dr. Scully's students in the 1970s, Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, used his principles to develop a movement in architecture and planning called New Urbanism. With an emphasis on historic preservation and the idea that architecture could build a sense of community, Duany and Plater-Zyberk — a married couple based in Miami — seemed to have drawn their vision directly from Dr. Scully's lectures.

"We were interested in the idea that the culture of a place, the history of a place, the geography of a place should be influences on form," Plater-Zyberk said in an interview with The Washington Post. "That very much grew out of his ideas."

Another of Dr. Scully's students, Lin, recalled a lecture about a World War I memorial in France commemorating soldiers killed in the trenches.

"As he described it," Lin later wrote in the New York Review of Books, "it resembled a gaping scream; after you passed through, you were left looking out on a simple graveyard with the crosses and tombstones of the French and the English."

While still a Yale undergraduate, Lin sketched designs for what became the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington — in essence, an elegant, elongated trench carved in the Mall.

"He doesn't just change architectural history," Duany told the Yale Alumni Magazine about Dr. Scully, "he changes architecture itself."

Vincent Joseph Scully Jr. was born Aug. 21, 1920, in New Haven, Conn., where his father sold cars. He grew up as a middle-class "townie" who attended public high school. When he entered Yale at 16, he felt out of place among his wealthy classmates, whom he served as a waiter to earn money.

He received a bachelor's degree in English literature in 1940 and began graduate study in art history before entering the Marine Corps.

He served in the Mediterranean and the Pacific and reached the rank of major, but he steadfastly refused to discuss his five years as a Marine, except to say that the first time he saw the treasures of Greek architecture was from the deck of a troop ship during World War II.

"I saw the sacred landscape, the sacred buildings," he told the Yale Alumni Magazine. "I saw the relationship between the two. It changed my life." The experience led to one of Dr. Scully's most significant books, "The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture" (1962).

When he returned to Yale, he focused his studies on architectural history, receiving a master's degree in 1947 and a doctorate two years later.

In the early 1960s, when transportation planners sought to build a multilane highway through New Haven, Dr. Scully was outraged by plans to raze much of his home town.

Inspired by Jane Jacobs's 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," he led a successful fight to preserve New Haven's old neighborhoods from "urban renewal." He began to consider the country's reliance on the automobile, with its resulting suburban sprawl and tangled highways, a social blight.

"As neighborhoods were destroyed, the mediation of architecture between human beings and madness dissolved," Dr. Scully said in his 1995 Jefferson Lecture at the Kennedy Center. "In countless American cities, redevelopment destroyed the very fabric of urban life."

Dr. Scully published more than a dozen books, including "Modern Architecture" (1961), which became a standard college text. His 1969 book, "American Architecture and Urbanism," articulated his changing views, weaving pueblo dwellings of the Southwest, urban brownstones and town squares of Colonial New England into a tapestry reflecting the varied strains of American life.

In "Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade" (1991), perhaps his most personal book, Dr. Scully illuminated the relations between buildings and nature, writing that architecture should embody a kind of civic and moral responsibility.

Among his honors, Dr. Scully received the first award presented by the National Building Museum for outstanding achievement in architecture, architectural scholarship, historic preservation and urban design. The prize was named in his honor. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2004 from President George W. Bush, a Yale graduate.

Dr. Scully was deeply learned in history and literature. When he went rowing, his favorite form of exercise, he would often recite Homer — in the original Greek.

His first two marriages, to Nancy Keith and Marian LaFollete Wohl, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of nearly 37 years, architectural historian Catherine W. Lynn of Lynchburg; three sons from his first marriage, Daniel Scully of Dublin, N.H., Stephen Scully of Boston and John Scully of Woodbridge, Conn.; a daughter from his second marriage, Katherine Scully of Tarrytown, N.Y.; five grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

After his formal retirement from Yale, Dr. Scully taught at the University of Miami, where his former students Duany and Plater-Zyberk led the architecture school. He ultimately settled in Lynchburg but continued to teach one course each fall at Yale until 2009, when he was 89.

At the end of his final lecture at Yale, Dr. Scully's students rose as one, and he thanked them for their attention, as he always did.

He walked briskly up the steps, then out the door, as the sound of applause went on and on, spilling from the lecture hall and ringing among the buildings he understood better than anyone else.

Read more Washington Post obituaries

Iona Opie, scholarly explorer of the lore and customs of childhood, dies at 94

John C. Lowe, lawyer who sued to have women admitted to U-Va., dies at 80

Gunnar Birkerts, who brought light and elegance to his architecture, dies at 92


Matt Schudel has been an obituary writer at The Washington Post since 2004. He previously worked for publications in Washington, New York, North Carolina and Florida.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

We're glad you're enjoying The Washington Post.

Get access to this story, and every story, on the web and in our apps with our Basic Digital subscription.

Welcome to The Washington Post

Thank you for subscribing
Keep reading for $10 $1
Show me more offers