H. Allen Brooks

H. Allen Brooks, architectural historian, author, teacher (b at New Haven, Conn 6 Nov 1925; d at Hanover, NH 8 Aug 2010). After military service as an engineer in the Philipine Islands (1946-47), H. Allen Brooks received his BA from Dartmouth (1950), MA from Yale (1955), and PhD from Northwestern University (1957). Except for an initial year at the University of Illinois, he taught at the University of Toronto department of fine art (1958-86). Simultaneously he held visiting professorships at Dartmouth, Vassar, and the Architectural Association, School of Architecture in London, England, and lectured frequently throughout North America, Europe and Australia. It was as an educator and author that he made the most impact in the field of architectural history.

Brooks's important contribution to the scholarship on Frank Lloyd Wright and Wright's architectural colleagues began with the publication of his doctoral research. Brooks coined the name "Prairie School" and his first book, The Prairie School, Frank Lloyd Wright and his Midwest Contemporaries (1972), received the Alice Davis Hitchcock Book Award.

The uniqueness of H. Allen Brooks's work stems from his insistence on exposing and correcting the legends and myths that surrounded Wright's legacy, particularly in Brooks's third publication, entitled Writings on Wright: Selected Comment on Frank Lloyd Wright (1981). Here, Brooks embraced previously published essays or reminiscences, providing an invaluable scholarly source and a unique insight into Wright's personality.

Brooks's interest in the origins of creative genius led to his exploration of the life and work of Le Corbusier. Focusing on Le Corbusier's early career, Brooks unearthed hundreds of previously unknown letters, architectural drawings, legal documents, and sketches, which resulted in the publication of Le Corbusier's Formative Years: Charles-Edouard Jeanneret at La Chaux-de-Fonds (1997). As with his work on Wright, with this book Brooks challenged the existing scholarship; in this case, correcting the mistaken impression that Le Corbusier's work had begun in Paris. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in biography and was awarded first prize by the Association of American Publishers for Architecture and Urban Planning.

As editor of the 32-volume Le Corbusier Archive (1982-84), H. Allen Brooks oversaw the publication of the architect's 32 000 drawings at the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris. This heroic publishing achievement provided the most thorough documentation of any architect's work of the modern period.

Brooks was a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians, as well as a past president and board member. He was a charter member of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada and a life member of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and he belonged to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy (from which he received the Wright Spirit Award). He was a member of the International Council of Museums and of the International Council on Monuments and Sites. In 1984 he was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of engineering from the School of Architecture at Dalhousie University in Halifax.