Vincent Scully: An Art Historian Among Architects

An introduction to the film will be presented by Chad Floyd (see bio below)




Vincent Scully is likely the best-known living art historian in the United States today.

Until recently, he was still teaching at his alma mater, Yale University, where a wide variety of students were drawn to his undergraduate history of art and architecture courses.

For years, Scully’s deep engagement with the subject and his passionate presentation style have inspired his students to value these subjects. Many of them have gone on to become prominent architects, historians, or clients of architecture.

In his lectures and his more-than-20 books on architecture, Scully’s insights are eye-opening and have championed the work of such modern architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and Aldo Rossi. He has focused on topics ranging from the American Shingle Style of the late 19th Century, which he identified and named, to a reassessment of Greek temples and their response to the surrounding landscape.

The breadth and depth of his knowledge, which includes a close familiarity with literature as well as with the visual arts, lends a special richness to his historical interpretations.

This film explores the phenomenon of Scully, tracing his connection to New Haven, his birthplace, and his time at Yale, from when he entered as a freshman in 1936 to the present. The narrative follows the arc of his interests in classical art and architecture to American architecture, historic preservation, and urban design in the 20th Century.

A number of architects and former students contribute to this dialogue, including David Childs, Andres Duany, Peter Eisenman, Paul Goldberger, John Hale, David McCullough, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Robert A.M. Stern, and Robert Venturi.

Chad Floyd, FAIA
Chad Floyd grew up in Washington, D.C. where a memorable childhood was highlighted by his service as a Senate Page for the likes of John F. Kennedy. Later, as a college student at Yale, he caught the theater bug, focusing on scenery and lighting design at the Yale School of Drama. His interest in architecture was kindled.

After graduating in 1966, Floyd shipped off to Vietnam to serve for thirteen months as a Marine infantry platoon and company commander. Returned to civilian life, he graduated from the Yale School of Architecture in 1973. Several study grants allowed him to travel to India and across the United States, and his observations on urban architecture and celebratory spaces were published in Architectural Record and elsewhere.

Floyd would go on to become an urban designer sought after for his understanding of public celebration dynamics. His background in acting and theater production equipped him for making a breakthrough in communicating design approaches for large civic projects, harnessing television as an interactive medium that could free the architect from the confinement and contentiousness of public meetings.

His projects around the country in academia, the arts, and civic architecture include the Palmer Events Center in Austin, Texas; the Liberty Memorial in Virginia that honors those who lost their lives on 9/11; the Nessel Wing of the Norton Museum of Art in Florida; an expansion and renovation of the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts; the Krieble Gallery at the Florence Griswold Museum; three projects at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania – a Welcome Center, a Student Center and Head of School residence; a master plan and expansion of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; a new residence hall at St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire; the Garde Arts Center in Connecticut; and the Floren Varsity Field House at Dartmouth College.

Recent projects include a new exhibition building for the Mystic Seaport Museum, an Outpatient Pavilion at the University of Connecticut Health Center, a new academic building for the UConn Medical School, a master plan and science center for Charlotte Country Day School, and academic buildings for: Episcopal High School and Madeira School in Virginia, Greensboro Day School in North Carolina, Far Brook School in New Jersey, The Country School in Connecticut, Saint Andrew’s School in Florida.

Floyd has garnered 100 awards for design excellence, including the prestigious American Institute of Architects Architecture Firm Award that Centerbrook received in 1998. In 1991 he was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, and he is also a Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design and a registered Historic Architect with the State of Connecticut.