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Born: 9/2/1920, Died: 5/16/2016

Architect and educator Romaldo Giurgola was born in Rome, Italy, and studied architecture at the University of Rome, completing the equivalent of a B.Arch. with honors in 1949. That same year, he came to the United States to study at Columbia University, where he earned an M.Arch. in 1951. The following year, Giurgola became an assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University. Between 1948 and 1953, he also maintained an architectural office in Rome.

In 1954 Giurgola accepted a position as an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, joining the dynamic, young, modernist faculty assembled by Dean G. Holmes Perkins. Giurgola would remain one of Penn's most important architecture teachers until 1966; he was named to the rank of full professor in 1963. At about the time he first came to Philadelphia, Giurgola also became a design associate for the firm of Bellante & Clauss. In that office he encountered Ehrman B. Mitchell and Warren W. Cunningham, who both had begun working for the predecessor firm Gilboy & O'Malley several years before. In 1958, Giurgola, Mitchell and Cunningham formed an association to pursue work with the National Park Service. Cunningham remained with the others less than two years, but one of the association's first commissions, the Wright Brothers' Memorial Visitors' Center at Kill Devil Hills, NC soon attracted critical attention to the work of Mitchell/Giurgola.

In 1966, Giurgola moved to New York City to become the chair of the department of architecture at Columbia and to establish a second office of the firm. Giurgola stepped down as chairman of the department of Columbia in 1971, and was named Ware Professor, a chair he held until he accepted emeritus status in 1991. In the fall of 1977, Giurgola was architect-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome. He was named Thomas Jefferson Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia, 1979.

Giurgola received the Arnold Brunner Award in Architecture from the National Institute of Arts & Letters in 1966. He joined the national AIA in 1964 and was named a member of the Academy of Fellows in 1975. He received the AIA's Gold Medal in 1981.

Written by Emily T. Cooperman.

Biographical Note - Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania

Photographs of buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, made by Rollin LaFrance for Romaldo Giurgola.

Clubs and Membership Organizations

  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)

School Affiliations

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Cornell University
  • Columbia University


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