Diane Lewis died early May 2 in Manhattan after a long illness. Born in 1951 in New York City, Lewis first studied art at New York’s Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, although she then received her B.Arch from that institution's Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture in 1976, where the legendary poetic architect, John Hejduk, her long-time mentor, was its dean. Lewis taught there from 1982 to the present, the first female architect to be named to the full-time faculty. She opened her office, Diane Lewis Architects, in 1983.
A forceful and influential professor as well as a committed and sensitive practitioner, Lewis had decided early to be an architect. Growing up, she once said, she became aware of all the new architecture going up in New York because her father was the editor of the Herald Tribune’s real estate section. Her knowledge of architecture deepened when she went off to Europe as a recipient of the Rome prize of the American Academy in Rome in 1976-77, one of the youngest to receive this prestigious award. Since the early ‘70s, Jacques Herzog recalls, “Diane has been in my life. She was very smart, confusingly crazy, and wonderfully funny—an unlikely and inspiring mix of talents and weaknesses, like nobody else!”