SAH News

History News Network: Interview with Victoria Young

by Erik Moshe | Jan 09, 2018
Victoria Young is a professor of modern architectural history and chair of the Art History Department at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is the author of Saint John’s Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of Modern Sacred Space (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Her book was included on Architectural Record’s 2014 Book Round Up and it has been heralded in a review by Norman Weinstein for ArchNewsNow as “the first great architectural history of the 21st century.” Young’s interest in monastic sacred space goes back to her 2002 publication about a monastic house in Leicestershire, “A.W.N. Pugin¹s Mount Saint Bernard Abbey: The International Character of England¹s Nineteenth-Century Monastic Revival,” in the journal Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide.

Her current research focuses on contemporary war museum design, specifically the architectural story of the National WWII Museum in New Orleans (2003-present), designed by Voorsanger Architects of New York City.

What books are you reading now?

I’m reading Victoria: The Queen. An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird (Random House, 2016) because of my interest in London, England, and the United Kingdom, as I’ve studied there in the past, and I teach a study abroad January-term art history survey course there frequently. I’m also reading Unfolded: How Architecture Saved my Life – Bartholomew Voorsanger by Alastair Gordon (Oro Press, 2017). Mr. Voorsanger’s architectural work is now being archived at my department at the University of St. Thomas and it’s fascinating to really know an architect as a person, not just a designer.

What is your favorite history book?

As an architectural historian, I’m drawn toward works that use the built environment to explain relationships among people. One of my favorite writers is Dell Upton of the University of California at Los Angeles and his most recent book, What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South (Yale U Press, 2015), is in heavy rotation in my classrooms these days.

Read the entire interview here.

Young is second vice president of the Society of Architectural Historians and has served as a member of Minnesota’s State Historic Review Board and Governor’s Residence Council. She has a B.A. from New York University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.  She has been an SAH member since 1994. 

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