Faculty & Staff

Nancy Sieber, PhD

Associate Director, Research Center for Urban Cultural History
Associate Professor of Art, College of Liberal Arts


Areas of Expertise

19th and 20th century architecture and urbanism with an emphasis on the Netherlands


PhD, MIT, 1986

Additional Information

Nancy Stieber is an architectural historian whose interest lies primarily in the period around 1900 when the experience of modernity was being refracted through architecture and urbanism. She construes architectural history not as the study of great monuments and architects, but rather as a site of intellectual, social, and cultural negotiation through which a variety of participants—including the ordinary people who engage with the built environment—contest, explore, and invent the meaning of space. Her research on Amsterdam around 1900 investigates the relationships between the city as experienced and as shaped by the various constituencies that composed Amsterdam society. Her book Housing Design and Society in Amsterdam: Reconfiguring Urban Order and Identity, 1900-1920 was co-winner of the 1999 Spiro Kostof Award for the “scholarship making the greatest contribution to our understanding of urbanism and its relationship to architecture.”

Her research has been supported by the Getty Center for the History of Art, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Delft Technical University, the NEH, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, among other grants. She has lectured in the Netherlands, France, Turkey, Portugal, and Canada, as well as in the United States. For the years 2003-06 she was editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, the journal of record in its field. Professor Stieber is currently writing a book to be  published by the University of Chicago Press with the title The Metaphorical City: Representations of Fin-de-Siècle Amsterdam. It investigates the ways that authenticity and verisimilitude were both thwarted and promoted by those visions of the city and its history that tried to make sense of the labyrinthine changes brought about by modernity. Professor Stieber is on the editorial advisory boards of the journals Architectural History, the journal of the SAHGB, and Architectural Histories, The Open Access Journal of the EAHN.  She is a founding member of the governing council of European Architectural History Network.

Center for the Study of Humanities, Culture, and Society

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