Professor of American Civilization
Richard Longstreth is Professor of American Studies. After receiving his A.B. in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley, he worked for the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission and taught at Kansas State University’s College of Architecture and Design before joining the GW faculty in 1983.
Paralleling his academic responsibilities, Professor Longstreth’s professional interests lie in two, complementary realms. As a scholar, he has written extensively on the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture in the U.S. In recent years, his research has focused on a variety of topics related to mid-twentieth-century architecture, urbanism, and landscape, as is reflected in his most recent book, Looking Beyond the Icons (2014). He is also editor of a University of Virginia Press series that is devoted to the topic. Earlier he examined many aspects of retail development in major metropolitan areas, relating economic, design, urbanistic, and cultural factors that have fundamentally reshaped the American landscape since 1920. The latest of these studies, The American Department Store Transformed, 1920-1960 (Yale) was published in 2010. His City Center to Regional Mall (1997) and The Drive-In, the Supermarket, and the Transformation of Commercial Space (1999) (MIT) won four national awards in the fields of architectural history, urban history, and historic preservation. He has edited six books, contributed chapters to numerous others. Currently he is examining the post-eighteenth-century history of Fort Ticonderoga as a historical shrine, first as a ruin and subsequently as the first major historical reconstruction in North America.
Professor Longstreth has also been involved in the preservation field at the national, state, and local levels and in the public and private sectors. Since 1984 he has taken an active role in Washington-area initiatives. Testimony he gave on a few of these cases is being published in a case-study book by the National Park Service and National Council for Preservation Education in 1997. Much of his other writing on the subject has addressed preserving the recent past. He has figured prominently in efforts to save numerous mid-twentieth-century sites, locally and nationally.
Professor Longstreth has served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians (1998-2000), president of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (2013-15), first vice president of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (1989-1991), trustee of the National Building Museum (1988-1994), board member of Preservation Action (1980-1995), Adirondack Architectural heritage (1998-2010), the Fort Ticonderoga Association (2007-13), and of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (1994-1998). He was a member of the National Historic Landmarks Advisory Group (1989-1994). Currently he chairs the Maryland Governor's Consulting Committee on the National Register of Historic Places. Recently he received an Award of Excellence for Architectural Scholarship and Preservation Advocacy from the Society of Architectural Historians, of which he is a Fellow..