Member News

Obituary: Michael Fazio (1943–2020)

by Jennifer Baughn and Pauline Saliga | Mar 12, 2020

With a heavy heart, I must announce the passing of Michael W. Fazio, friend, mentor, and colleague. He joined the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (SESAH) in 1985 and served twice as its president (1989–1991, 2009–2011). Many of you who attended SESAH’s annual conference in Greenville, SC, noted his rare absence, coming after his diagnosis with leukemia, and he appreciated all your expressions of friendship and concern over the last few months. Although I had known Michael from my work with the Mississippi SHPO, I found a mentor in him when I joined SESAH in 2002, and we became friends and colleagues while working on Buildings of Mississippi, a volume in SAH’s Buildings of the United States series, which is scheduled for publication in Fall 2020. He always said to “find your joy,” and among his joys were his family, friends, architecture, good food, Auburn football, and Atlanta Braves baseball.

His professional accomplishments were many and varied. He co-wrote, with fellow-SESAH members Marian Moffett and Lawrence Wodehouse, the popular survey Buildings Across Time: An Introduction to World Architecture, published in 2003; he had recently completed the 5th edition, published in 2019. His magnum opus, The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, co-authored with Patrick Snadon, won the prestigious Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award from the Society of Architectural Historians in 2008. He continued working almost to the end: his reflections on his career as an architecture student at Auburn in the 1960s and the legacy of Basic Design as an educational approach will appear in the next issue of ARRIS, the journal of SESAH.

Michael’s work on national and regional subjects did not stop him from significant contributions closer to his adopted home of Starkville, Mississippi. He was a founding professor of the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University and was known as a challenging but passionate teacher; to this day, “Fazio stories” are traded whenever Mississippi architects get together. He was instrumental in bringing the records of important Mississippi architects to MSU’s special collections, making it the primary architectural repository for the state. He also served faithfully on the Mississippi Historic Preservation Review Board from 1979 until his death, and he was instrumental in the City of Starkville’s passage of a historic preservation ordinance, chairing the historic preservation commission until his illness required him to step down.

We at SESAH will miss Michael’s scholarship, leadership, and experience. Many of us will miss his friendship, insights, and dry wit. A Celebration of Life service was held Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Starkville.

Jennifer Baughn
SESAH President
Jackson, Miss.

 

The Society of Architectural Historians is saddened to learn about the recent death of Dr. Michael W. Fazio, an SAH member for 46 years and co-author of the forthcoming Buildings of Mississippi volume that he and Jennifer Baughn wrote for the Society of Architectural Historians. It will be published in fall of this year. An expert on both architect Benjamin Latrobe and historic Mississippi architecture, Fazio published “Benjamin Latrobe’s Designs for a Lighthouse at the Mouth of the Mississippi River” in the September 1989 issue of JSAH. Among his books were Landscape of Transformations: Architecture in Birmingham, Alabama (University of Tennessee, 2010) and The Domestic Architecture of Benjamin Henry Latrobe (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), co-authored with Patrick Snadon, which was awarded the 2008 SAH Alice Davis Hitchcock Book award.

Fazio, an architect and professor in the School of Architecture at Mississippi State University for more than 30 years, was active with SAH and the Southeast Chapter of SAH throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Fazio frequently delivered papers at SAH annual conferences including “Latrobe's Designs for a Lighthouse at the Mouth of the Mississippi River” at the 1983 meeting and “The Contextual Filters for Benjamin Latrobe’s Residential Buildings in America” at the 1991 meeting. He served on the SAH Board of Directors from 1984 to 1987, and for the SESAH he served as vice president in 1989, co-editor of the SESAH journal, AARIS, in 1993, and SESAH president from 2010 to 2011. His pedagogical contributions at Mississippi State University are detailed in an obituary from the College of Architecture, Art and Design.

Pauline Saliga
Executive Director
Society of Architectural Historians

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