Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Chair, architectural history

Education

  • B.A., history of art and English, University of Toronto, 1987
  • M.A., history of art, University of Pennsylvania, 1990
  • Ph.D., history of art, University of Pennsylvania, 1993

Credentials

Creating the department of architectural history in 1995 and serving as its chairman ever since; creating and directing the Virtual Historic Savannah Project, 1996-2006; securing National Endowment for the Humanities and Georgia Humanities Council grants totaling $210,000

Awards, recognitions and honors

Awards

  • Historic Pavement website featured in Patrick Sisson, “Step onto the past: new website explores our cities’ historic streets and roadways,” Curbed, Sept. 15, 2016
  • Featured in Patrick Sisson, “Tour Savannah’s Bull Street, the centerpiece of a historic downtown,” Curbed, Aug. 31, 2016
  • Faculty sabbatical award in support of “Researching and Documenting Historic Street Pavement across America,” Savannah College of Art and Design, Summer 2016
  • Featured in “10 Parks the Changed America,” PBS TV show (produced by WTTW Chicago), on-screen interview for Savannah’s squares, April 2016
  • Featured in “Southern Charm, Square by Square: An Architectural Tour of Savannah,” Gear Patrol: The Spirit of Adventure, Issue 2 (2016), 206–209
  • Presidential Fellowship for Faculty Development, Savannah College of Art and Design, Summer 2005
  • Inclusion in the annual "40 under 40" professional leaders as selected by The Savannah Business Report and Journal, vol. 5, issue 24 (Feb. 24-Mar. 2, 2003): 13
  • Citation of Excellence from the Savannah Chapter, American Institute of Architects, for the Virtual Historic Savannah Project, 2002
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Preservation and Access, Implementation grant ($150,000) for the Virtual Historic Savannah Project, 2002
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Division of Public Programs, Special Projects Planning grant ($50,280); and Georgia Humanities Council grant ($9,766) both for the Virtual Historic Savannah Project, 2000
  • Georgia Humanities Council Public Programs Grant ($2,000) and Samuel Kress Foundation Foreign Participant Grant ($2,500), both for the Savannah Symposium on the City Square, 1999
  • Listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers, 4th ed. (1996)
  • School of Arts and Science Dissertation Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1992
  • Mellon Dissertation Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1991
  • Doctoral Fellowship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, 1990
  • Isaac Perry Essay Prize, Turpin Bannister Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians, 1990
  • Thomas Ustick Walter Essay Prize, Philadelphia Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians, 1989
  • Non-Service Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania, 1989
  • Teetzel Graduating Fellowship in Art History, University of Toronto, 1986
  • Teetzel Traveling Award in Art History, University of Toronto, 1986
  • Sidney Key Memorial Scholarship for Academic Achievement, University of Toronto, 1986
  • Robson Scholarship in History, University of Toronto, 1985

Boards and committees

  • Chair, Antoinette Forrester Downing Book Award Committee, Society of Architectural Historians, 2016
  • Member, Georgia Representative, Board of Directors, Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, 2013-2015; Member, ex-officio, 2016–
  • Member, Historic District Board of Review, City of Savannah, 2010-2016
  • Member, Board of Directors, Society of Architectural Historians, 2007-2010
  • Member, Alice Davis Hitchcock Award Committee, Society of Arch. Historians, 2008
  • Member, Founders' Award Committee, Society of Architectural Historians, 2007
  • Reviewer, Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants Review Panel, National Endowment for the Humanities, Washington, DC, 2007, 2009
  • Member, Historic District Ordinance Revisions Committee, Metropolitan Planning Commission, City of Savannah, 2001-2004; 2008-2009
  • Board Member, Georgia National Register Review Board, 1999-2002; Chairman, 2001-2002

Organizations

Society of Architectural Historians, Southeastern Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, College Art Association, Georgia Historical Society, Historic Savannah Foundation

Publications and Presentations

Select publications

• Robin B. Williams et al., Buildings of Savannah, Buildings of the United States Series for the Society of Architectural Historians (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2016).
• Co-Editor, Arris: The Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, volumes 26–28 (2015–2017).
• “Popularizing Roma Capitale: Representations of a Royal Rome in the Pages of L’Illustrazione Italiana in the late 19th century,” TAHITI: Taidehistoria tieteenä Konsthistorien som vetenskap 04/2016.
• “‘A well-paved city’: Variety, locality and modernity in paving Savannah’s streets,” Arris: The Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, 24 (2013): 20–39.
• “The Challenge of Preserving Public Memory: Commemorating Tomochichi in Savannah,” Preservation, Education & Research 5 (2012): 1–17.
• “Preface” in Naga: The Master Architect Series (Images Publishing, 2013), 4–5.
• “A Nineteenth-Century Monument for the State,” chapter 12 in The Pantheon: From Antiquity to the Present, eds. Tod A. Marder and Mark Wilson Jones (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
• “Harold Allen Brooks” [obituary], Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 70, no. 1 (Mar. 2011), 5–6.
• “Savannah Plan” and “William Jay” entries, The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).
• “Savannah” entry, Encyclopedia of Urban Studies, ed. Ray Hutchison (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Reference Publications, 2009).
• Review of Ashley Callahan, ed. Georgia Inside and Out: Architecture, Landscape, and Decorative Arts, for the caa.reviews (posted Jan. 28, 2008).
• “Evolution and Adaptation: The Savannah Plan and its Impact on Architectural Development,” in Vernacular Architecture Forum 2007, Savannah and the Lowcountry: Field Guide for the 28th annual meeting, eds. Marisa C. Gomez and E.G. Daves Rossell (Vernacular Architecture Forum, 2007), 50–53.
• “An architectural symphony without a soloist: an historical overview of Savannah.” SAH News: Society of Architectural Historians, Newsletter, vol. XLIX, no. 6 (Dec. 2005): 6–8.
• “Colonial Architecture: Overview” entry, New Georgia Encyclopedia (Georgia Humanities Council and University of Georgia Press, 2004).
• “Savannah College of Art and Design: Architecture Program” entry, New Georgia Encyclopedia (Georgia Humanities Council and University of Georgia Press, 2004).
• “The Image of Secular Power: The Romanità of Italian State Architecture under the Sinistra, 1876–90,” in Guglielmo Calderini: La costruzione di un’architettura nel progetto di una capitale, ed. Fedora Boco (Perugia, 1996): 9–23
• “Roma Capitale: Image and Myth. Glimpses of Research in Progress. Introduction” (Proceedings of Symposium at the Canadian Academic Centre in Italy), Annali Accademici Canadesi 8 (1992): 5–8 and 15–16
• “An Unsung Protagonist of Roma Capitale: The Ministry of Public Instruction and Its Documents at the Archivio Centrale dello Stato, Rome,” Annali Accademici Canadesi 8 (1992): 97–105
• “First Unitarian Church and School, Rochester, New York, 1959–69,” in Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture, ed. David B. Brownlee and David G. De Long (New York, 1991), 340–345
• Catalogue entries on Piranesi’s views of pilgrimage churches and obelisks in: Piranesi, Rome Recorded: A Complete Edition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s Vedute di Roma from the Collection of the Arthur Ross Foundation, ed. Malcolm Campbell (Philadelphia, 1989; rev. ed., 1990), cat. nos. 4, 5, 6, 16, 21, 25, 40, 46, 47, 54, 55, 86, 87, 117, 122

Conference papers

• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA: “The Battle to Control Ancient Heritage in late 19th-Century Rome,” Sept. 2016.
• 2016 Urban Planning Conference — Planning across Generations: Deconstructing the Past, Shaping the Future, Savannah, GA: “Savannah’s Remarkable Historic Street and Sidewalk Pavement and the Challenge of Preservation,” April 2016.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX: “The Surprisingly Complex History of Savannah’s Enigmatic and Mutable Squares,” Oct. 2015.
• Preservation Plain and Simple Conference, Lincoln, NE: “History, Significance and Preservation of Brick Streets,” May 2015.
• Preserving the Historic Road Conference, Savannah, GA: Mobile Workshop, “History Under Your Feet: Savannah’s Historic Pavements,” Sept. 2014.
• Primer Simposio Centroamericano de Artes Visuales y Escenicas, Comayagüela (Tegucigalpa), Honduras: “Savannah as a model of a living historic urban environment,” Oct. 2013,
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Buffalo, NY: “In the Hands of Politicians: Reinventing Rome in the Late 1800s,” April 2013.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Athens, GA: “‘Forest City’: The Historical Role of Trees in Defining Savannah’s Urban Identity,” Oct. 2012.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Charleston, SC: “A Monument for a Chief: The Origins of Public Commemoration in America and the Evolving Perception of Native Americans,” Oct. 2011.
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA: Chair, “Architecture and Race in the Southern City” session, April 2011.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Jackson, MS: “The Curious Case of Savannah Pavement,” Oct. 2009.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Nashville, TN: “Reflections on Urban Change: Patterns of Destruction and Preservation in Downtown Savannah,” Oct. 2007.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Knoxville, TN: “Savannah Houses: Towards a Definition of Local Typologies,” Oct. 2004.
• Organization of American Historians: 2004 Southern Regional Conference, Atlanta, GA: “Virtual Historic Savannah Project,” July 2004.
• 2002 Georgia Statewide Preservation Conference, Macon, GA: “Saving the Charles Ellis Elementary School in Savannah,” Feb. 2002.
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada: “Towards a Non-Linear Exploration of Architectural History: The Case of the Virtual Historic Savannah Project,” April 2001.
• Southeast Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, Lexington, VA: “Not Another Paper on the Savannah Plan,” Oct. 2000.
• College Art Association Annual Conference, New York City, NY: “Secularizing the Pantheon in the Service of Politics,” Feb. 2000.
• Association for History and Computing, London, England: “Documenting Urban Form and Transformation in 4D: The Virtual Historic Savannah Project,” Sept. 1999.
• Syllabus99 conference, Santa Clara, CA: “Using V.R.M.L. — the 3-D language of the internet — as a learning tool: The Virtual Historic Savannah Project,” July 1999.
• 52nd National Preservation Conference, Savannah: educational session chair and presenter, “Animating the Past: The Virtual Historic Savannah Project,” Oct. 1998.
• International Conference of Society of Industrial Designers, Toronto, Canada: “The Savannah College of Art and Design: An Alternative Urban Campus” (case history presentation), Aug. 1997.
• College Art Association Annual Conference, New York City, NY: "The Victor Emmanuel Monument on the Capitoline: From a Controversial Site to a Site of Controversy," Feb. 1997.
• Guglielmo Calderini: la costruzione di un’architettura nel progetto di una Capitale conference, Rome: “La romanità dell architettura dello stato sotto la Sinistra,” Sept. 1995.
• Third Meeting of the International Society for the Classical Tradition, Boston, MA: “In Caput Mundi: The Tradition of Secular Architectural Iconography on the Capitoline,” March 1995.
• Antiquity and Antiquity Transumed: An Interdisciplinary Conference, Toronto, Canada: “From the Renaissance to Antiquity in the Risorgimento,” March 1994.
• Roma speculum mundi? Traditions and Ideas of Rome in the Interplay of Myth, Iconography, History and Political Liturgy between Risorgimento and Fascism conference, Rome, Italy: “In Search of a Political Platform: The Site Debate for the Victor Emmanuel Monument,” Dec. 1993.
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Charleston, SC: “Pantheon Possessed: Antiquity as Propaganda in Late 19th-Century Rome,” April 1993.
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM: “In Caput Mundi: The Tradition of Secular Architectural Iconography on the Capitoline.” April 1992.
• Roma Capitale: Image and Myth symposium, Canadian Academic Centre in Italy, Rome: “Creating the National Capital: The Urban Works of the Royal Italian Government.” Feb. 1992.
• 13th Annual Whitney Symposium on American Art, New York City, NY: “Drawing on History: Louis Kahn’s Sketches for his First Unitarian Church,” April 1990.

Select invited presentations

• Reading the City Lecture Series, sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians, Savannah, GA: “Broadening Savannah’s Urban Identity: From the Ideal to the Real,” (opening lecture), April 20, 2016.
• National Council of Architectural Registration Boards annual regional meeting, Savannah, GA: “Understanding Savannah’s Unique Urban Environment” (plenary address), March 10, 2016.
• The Rotary Club of Savannah, Savannah, GA: “Rethinking Savannah’s Popular Image,” Nov. 2, 2015
• Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation, Roanoke, VA: “Fueling Progress: The Wonderful World of Roadside Architecture,” June 20, 2014.
• City of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, mayor and government officials, Tegucigalpa, Honduras: “Savannah as a model of a vital historic urban environment,” March 20, 2014.
• The Learning Center of Senior Citizens, Savannah, GA: “Transforming Rome into the Capital of Modern Italy,” Feb. 4, 2013, and “Remembering Tomochichi in Savannah,” Feb. 20, 2013..
• CityWorks (X)po, Roanoke, VA: “Learning to Look Up: Celebrating the Urban and Architectural Character of Your City,” (walking tour), Oct. 20, 2012.
• Historic Savannah Foundation, Savannah, GA: “A History of Savannah at the Cutting Edge,” May 11, 2010.
• Society of Architectural Historians Annual Meeting, Savannah, GA: “Savannah: A Model of Humane Urbanism and Architectural Subtlety” (introductory address), Apr. 26, 2006
• Panelist, Historic Savannah Foundation, Savannah, GA: “Moving Historic Houses” Roundtable,” May 3, 2005.
• Roundtable presenter, AIA Regional and Urban Design Knowledge Community, Washington, D.C.: “Learning from Savannah”, April 1, 2005.
• Eighteenth-Century Studies Association Annual Meeting, Savannah, GA: “Savannah’s Urban and Architectural Identity in the 18th and 19th Centuries” (keynote address), Mar. 5, 2004.
• Roundtable panelist, Historic Savannah Foundation, Savannah, GA: “Should We Protect Architecture of the Recent Past?” May 3, 2004.
• American Cultural Resource Association Annual Meeting, Savannah, GA: “Virtual Historic Savannah Project” (plenary address), Oct. 26, 2002.
• Nineteenth-Century Studies Association, Savannah, GA: “Savannah Squares and 19th-Century Architecture” (plenary address), March 7, 2002.
• SEASECS, Savannah, GA: “An Introduction to Savannah’s Architectural History” (plenary address), March 2, 2000.
• North Carolina Association of Art Educators Annual Meeting, Wilmington, NC: “Using New Technology to Explore the Heritage and Legacy of Savannah” (keynote address), November 6,1999.