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Gail Fenske

Gail Fenske, Ph.D.
Professor of Architecture
B.Arch. Arizona State University, M.S. Arch. Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Registered Architect
View Curriculum Vitae »
Contact Information
AR 242
Areas of Expertise: 
Architecture/History of Modern Architecture/Skyscrapers

Gail Fenske holds a Ph. D. in the History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture from MIT, a Master of Science in Architectural Studies (History, Theory & Criticism) from MIT, and a Bachelor of Architecture with high honors from Arizona State University. 


Professor Fenske teaches subjects in the history of modern European architecture and American architecture at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Current seminars include: “Skyscrapers” and “Theoretical Origins of Modernism.”   

Her courses introduce students to the substance of architectural history, and at the graduate level, to the field’s key questions and methodologies.  She emphasizes architecture’s links to broader urban, technological, and visual contexts, including painting, photography, and film.  Through field trips, students experience significant works of architecture in the Northeast.


Gail Fenske is the author of The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York (University of Chicago Press, 2008) and co-editor of Aalto and America (Yale University Press, 2012).  She is currently preparing Skyscrapers for publication with the Library of Congress and W. W. Norton & Company.  She has also published several essays as chapters in books, among them The American Skyscraper: Cultural Histories (Cambridge University Press, 2005), The Landscape of Modernity (John Hopkins University Press, 1997), and The Education of the Architect (MIT Press, 1997). 

The Skyscraper and the City received a New York City Book Award, 2008 Book of the Year, and a PROSE Award, Honorable Mention, Excellence in Scholarly Publishing, from the Association of American Publishers.

She has received grants and fellowships in support of her research and publications from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, Hagley and Wintherthur Museums, the Graham Foundation, and the J.M. Kaplan Fund. 

Complete list of publications

Other Activities

Gail Fenske is currently serving as Secretary for the Society of Architectural Historians, and is past President, New England Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians.

Prior to her appointment in the School of Architecture, Art & Historic Preservation, she taught as visiting assistant professor at Cornell and since then has held visiting professorships at Wellesley College and MIT.

She is a registered architect, and previously practiced architecture in Boston and New York.