Franklin Toker | History of Art and Architecture | University of Pittsburgh
History of Art and Architecture

Franklin Toker

Distinguished Professor Emeritus


Past PhD(s): Therese Elliot Martin; See a listing of Past PhDs for details

Franklin Toker teaches the history of cities and the history of medieval and American architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, but his publications touch many other fields as well. His Church of Notre-Dame in Montréal won the Hitchcock Award of the Society of Architectural Historians and an article on Florence Cathedral in the Art Bulletin won him the Porter Prize of the College Art Association, making Toker one of  the rare scholars to receive preeminent awards from both art and architectural historians.

A  scholar of international reputation, Franklin Toker has served as president of the Society of Architectural Historians, the world's leading organization for the study and preservation of the built environment. Among his appointments was a membership at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, and as a Guggenheim and NEH Fellow. He lectures frequently in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and has also addressed scholars in India, China, and Japan.

Born in Montréal to a family that has lived for seven generations in French Canada, Toker holds degrees in the history of art from McGill University, Oberlin College, and Harvard University. A visiting professor at three Italian universities, Toker was given the particular distinction of being the first non-Italian ever invited to teach the history of art at the University of Florence.

A specialist in the evolution of North American buildings and cities, as well as in the archaeology of Early Christian Italy, Toker has published eight books and numerous articles on topics ranging from a Roman house to Gothic architectural drawings and modern architecture. Toker’s books have been reviewed both in academic circles and in national publications like The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker. The books have been translated into French, Italian, and Chinese; and his Fallingwater Rising has been optioned as a feature-length film. The distinguished Belgian publishing house of Brepols is currently publishing Toker's four-volume archaeological history of medieval Florence and its cathedral, which outside observers have called the most ambitious American publication on medieval archaeology in decades.

Full Publications

The Church of Notre-Dame in Montreal: An Architectural History (Montreal/London: McGill-Queen's University Press, 184 pp., 1970; French translation as L'Eglise Notre-Dame de Montréal: son architecture, son passé; Montreal: Hurtubise HMH, 302 pp., 1981; 2d English ed. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 124 pp., 1992). Winner of the Hitchcock Prize.

S. Reparata: L'Antica Cattedrale Fiorentina (with G. Morozzi & J. Herrmann; Florence: Bonechi Editore, 111 pp., 1974).

Pittsburgh: An Urban Portrait (University Park/London, The Pennsylvania State University Press, 352 pp., 1986; 2d ed Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1994).

Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E. J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House (New York: Knopf/Random House, 496 pp., 2003; 7 printings and rev paperback eds., 2005/2009; a The New York Times "Notable Book" of 2003; Chinese translation as Liu shui bei shu zhuan; Beijing, Tsinghua University Press, 2009).

Buildings of Pittsburgh (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 200 pp., 2007).

On Holy Ground: Liturgy, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Cathedral and the Streets of Medieval Florence (London/Turnhout: Brepols Publishing/Harvey Miller, 323 pp., 2009).

Pittsburgh: A New Portrait (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 512 pp., 2009). Winner, Association of American University Presses 2010 book award.

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania (with Lu Donnelly & David Brumble; Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 656 pp., 2010).

Archaeological Campaigns below the Florence Duomo and Baptistery, 1895-1980 (Brepols Publishing, 2012).

Books about to be published:

Reconstructing the Cathedral and Baptistery of Florence in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Brepols Publishing).

When Stones Speak: The Florence Duomo Excavations in the Light of History (Brepols Publishing).

Books in preparation, based on earlier lectures or articles:

The Princess and her Bastard Brother: Why Velazquez Painted "Las Meninas"

Divine Comedy: An American Archaeologist Excavates the Cathedral of Florence

The Lords of Pittsburgh

Sourcebook of Italian Renaissance Architecture

Arnolfo di Cambio: The Artist Who Changed the Face of Medieval Italy

Pittsburgh: a Topographical History

Helen Clay Frick's Palace for the Arts, 1925-65

Articles, chapters, reviews:

1967 A note on the urban history of Florence, in Giuseppe Zocchi's Views of Florence, New York, Walker & Co.:10-11

1968  "Slidetapes for the Art Museum," Museum News 47:50-55.

1970  "James O'Donnell: An Irish Georgian in America," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 29:132-43.

1971  "La Chiesa di S. Reparata fu costruita dai Bizantini?," La Nazione, Florence, 30 April 1971                                        

1972  "Gli scavi sotto il Duomo di Firenze," Notiziario di Archeologia Medievale 2:2-4                         

1973  "An Umbrian Abbey: San Paolo di Valdiponte," Papers of the British School at Rome 40:146-95 (with I. Adams, A. Luttrell)

1974 Review of J. O'Gorman, The Architecture of the Monastic Library in Italy, 1300 -1600, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 33:247-248

         Review of D. Macaulay, Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 33:265

1975  "Excavations below the Cathedral of Florence, 1965-1974," Gesta 14/2:17-36

          "Scavi del Complesso Altomedievale di S. Reparata sotto il Duomo di Firenze," Archeologia Medievale 2:161-190

1976  "A Baptistery below the Baptistery of Florence," Art Bulletin 58:157-167  

1977  "Why Richardson?" in H.H. Richardson: The Allegheny County Courthouse & Jail. Pittsburgh: County of Allegheny:17-21

          "Richardson en concours: The Pittsburgh Courthouse," Carnegie Magazine 51, no. 9:13-29

1978  "Florence Cathedral: The Design Stage," Art Bulletin 60:214-230

           Review of Maryland Historical Society, The Papers of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, in

           Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 37:42-43

          Review essay on the architecture and urbanism of French Canada, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 37:64-65

          Review of Firenze: Studi e Ricerche sul Centro Antico, I, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 37:107

1979  "An Early Christian Church below the Cathedral of Florence,"  Atti IX Congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Cristiana. Vatican City, II:929-933

         "In the Grand Manner: The P&LE Station in Pittsburgh," Carnegie Magazine 53/3:4-21

         "Philip Johnson and PPG: A Date with History," Progressive Architecture 60 (July):60-61

         "Carnegie Institute--A National Historic Site," Carnegie Magazine, 53/10:4-6

          Review of A. Luttrell, ed., Hal Milieri: A Maltese Casale, Its Churches and Paintings, in Speculum 54/2:398-400  

1982  "Victor Bourgeau" and "James O'Donnell" entries in MacMillan Encyclopedia of Architects. New York: MacMillan.

1983  "Magnifico et visibili principio dicti operis: Arnolfo di Cambio a S. Maria del Fiore," Roma Anno 1300: Atti del IV Settimana di Studi di Storia dell'arte medievale dell'Università di Roma (1980). Rome:71-79

         "Arnolfo's S. Maria del Fiore: A Working Hypothesis," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 42:101-120.

          Review of J. K. Ochsner, H. H. Richardson: Complete Architectural Works, in Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 66:373-75.

1984  "Oakland: The Second Founding of Pittsburgh," Urban Design International 5/1: 34-35, 40

1985  "Gothic Architecture by Remote Control: An Illustrated Building Contract of 1340," Art Bulletin 67:67-95

          "Alberti's Ideal Architect: Renaissance--or Gothic?," Renaissance Studies in Honor of Craig Hugh Smyth. Florence, Giunti Barbera:667-74

1986  "Reversing an Urban Image: New Architecture in Pittsburgh, 1890-1980," Sister Cities: Pittsburgh and Sheffield. Pittsburgh, Carnegie-Mellon University Press:1-12

           Review of M. Girouard, Cities and People: A Social and Architectural History, in Historic Preservation 38/4:60

           Review of S. Tatman & R. Moss, Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects: 1700-1930, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 45:424

1987  "Pittsburgh: Une renaissance et demie--la mutation d'une ville et de son image," in Aménager l'urbain: de Montréal à San Francisco: politiques et design urbains (A. Germain, J.-C. Marsan ed.) Montreal: Editions du Méridien:160-177

1988 Review of H. Götze, Castel del Monte: Gestalt und Symbol der Architektur Friedrichs II, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 47:415-416

1989  "Early Medieval Florence: Between History and Archaeology," in Medieval Archaeology (Charles Redman ed). Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 60. Binghamton NY:261-283

          Review of Chicago Architecture 1872-1922: Birth of a Metropolis, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 48:91-93

          Review of D. Olsen, The City as a Work of Art: London, Paris, Vienna, in  Design Book Review 17 (Winter1989):32-33

         "Remaking Pittsburgh: A Cautionary Tale," in Remaking Cities. Edited by B. Davis, D. Lewis. Pittsburgh:30-35

          Review of J. Van Trump, Majesty of the Law: The Court Houses of Allegheny County, in  Pittsburgh History 72:152-4.

1992  "Building on Paper: The Role of Architectural Drawings in Late-Medieval Italy," in Actes du XXVIIe Congrès

                   international d'histoire de l'art. Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg. 6: 31-50.

1993  "Projects for a Fine Arts Building at the University of Pittsburgh" (introduction and editorship), in Planning the Pitt Campus: Dreams and Schemes Never Realized. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh: 45--89.

           Review of Douglas Richardson, et al., A Not Unsightly Building: University College and Its History in Journal of Canadian Art History 15/1 (1992):134-135.

           "Architecture's Greatest Hit: the invention of the Christian church," Pitt (University of Pittsburgh) 8/1 (1993):36-37.

            Review of Gary Hughes, Music of the Eye: Architectural Drawings of Canada's First City, 1822-1914 in Journal of  Canadian Art History 15/2 (1993):106-108

1995  Review of Randall J. Van Vynckt, ed., International Dictionary of Architects and Architecture, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 54:378--379.

          "Fra committente e cantiere: gli architetti delle cattedrali gotiche," in Il Duomo di Orvieto e le Grandi Cattedrali del Duecento. Rome: 357--367

         Review of David Kroyanker, Jerusalem Architecture, in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 58 (1995):417-419.

1996  "Pittsburgh," in The Dictionary of Art. London: MacMillan: 25:4-5

          Review of Antonio Paolucci et al., Il Battistero di San Giovanni a Firenze/ The Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence, in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 55:346--347.

1997   Review of Charles Stotz, The Early Architecture of Western Pennsylvania, in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (January/April): 141--143

         "Duomo, un'altra verità sulle origini," La Nazione (Florence) 13 February

1999   "Edgar Jonas Kaufmann, Sr.," American National Biography (New York, Oxford University Press for American Council of Learned Societies) xii, pp. 400-401.

         "Amid Rubble and Myth: Excavating beneath Florence's Cathedral," Humanities 20/2 (March/April):14-18.

         "A Gap in the Liturgical History of Florence Cathedral, and a Byzantine Casket Rch Enough to Fill It," in Arte d'Occidente: Studi in Onore di Angiola Maria Romanini (Rome, Edizioni Sintesi Informazione, 1999) II:767--779.

2000  "Quelle ossa in Duomo non erano di Giotto," La Repubblica (Florence), 5 November

          "Non è Giotto: ecco due nuove prove," La Repubblica (Florence), 20 December

2001   "Arnolfo di Cambio a Santa Maria del Fiore: un Trionfo di forma e significato," in T. Verdon and A. Innocenti, ed., Atti del VII Centenario del Duomo di Firenze (Florence, Edifir) 1:227--241.

           "Una Visita di S. Ambrogio, e la Spiegazione delle Origini della Cattedrale di Firenze," idem., 2:376--389.

             "On Holy Ground: Architecture and Liturgy in the Cathedral and in the Streets of Thirteenth-Century Florence," idem., 2:544--559.

2004  "Il contratto del 1340: un 'unicum' nell'architettura Europea," in Fabio Gabbrielli, ed. Il Palazzo Sansedoni a Siena  (Siena, Protagon Editori):193--227.  English edition as "The Contract of 1340: an Unicum in European Architecture," in The Sansedoni Palace (Siena, 2005):193--227.

2005  Review of Simon Goldhill, The Temple of Jerusalem (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2005);, 06.30.05.

2007  "A Magnet for Good Architecture: The Laurel Highlands from Meason House to Fallingwater--and Beyond,"Westmoreland History 11/3 (2007):22-36.

2009           "Arnolfo di Cambio and the Beginnings of Artistic Identity," in Arnolfo's Moment: Acts of an International Conference, May 26-27, 2005 (Florence: Olschki Publishing and Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies):11-33.

2010           "Franklin Toker on the Science of Art History," PittChronicle 19 January; online at

Education Details

PhD, Harvard University

Selected Awards

Elected President, Society of Architectural Historians

Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award for best new book on architectural history

Porter Prize for best article in art history

Fellowship, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies

Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies

Research Grants, National Endowment for the Humanities

Fellowship, Guggenheim Foundation                           

Senior Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities

Senior Fellowship, Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts

Membership, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ

Residency, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Study and Conference Center

Finalist, J. Anthony Lukas Prize

Nominated, Pulitzer Prize