Architectural historian Brian Brace Taylor passes away

Architectural historian Brian Brace Taylor passes away. (Courtesy the Taylor family)

The architectural historian Brian Brace Taylor passed away on April 15, aged 73. He was a professor of architecture at The New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-Belleville. He was, according to long time NYIT Dean Judith DiMaio, a beloved teacher of many generations of students and “in utter command of this subject, the history of architecture.” In addition to a distinguished academic career, Taylor was best known as a scholar of Le Corbusier and non-western architecture. The historian Mary McLeod claims that Taylor was one of the first scholars to have access to the Le Corbusier archives and closely studied the French architect’s personal papers. He used these archives in 1987 to author Le Corbusier, the City of Refuge, Paris 1929/33, an important early modern text on the French master.

Taylor also had a career as an architectural journalist and was a longtime senior editor at L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui before co-founding Mimar, a magazine that focused on the architecture of the developing world. He played a significant role in introducing European and North American communities to architecture in the developing world as a professor and author of books on the architects: Geoffrey BawaSumet Jumsai (Design Excellence)Raj Rewal, and Miguel Angel Roca.

A less-known part of Taylor’s career is his founding role in Les Amis de Maison de Verre and his efforts to preserve the house. Bob Rubin, the current owner of the house, claims “Brian was the midwife of our acquisition of the house back in 2004. He said to me, ‘I think you should buy the maison de verre.’ I thought he was kidding, and I asked him if it was even for sale. I’ll never forget his answer: ‘It’s not, but it needs to be bought.’ He vouched for me to the family, and eventually, the stars aligned. Thus he is not only one of the house’s chroniclers, but an important actor in its history.” He also contributed an essay with Bernard Bauchet to the Jewish Museum’s recent catalogue Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design. McLeod believes that Taylor was first and foremost a teacher but also a “modest, kind, generous and self-effacing” scholar who nevertheless had a large impact on the profession and discourse of architecture during his lifetime.

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