McEwen, Indra Kagis 1945-

views updated

McEWEN, Indra Kagis 1945-

PERSONAL: Born August 20, 1945, in Twistringen, Germany; daughter of Indrikis (a forester) and Yvette (a librarian; maiden name, Dreimanis) Kagis; married Jean McEwen (an artist), September 18, 1976 (deceased); children: Jean-Sabin, Marianne, Jérémie. Ethnicity: "Latvian." Education: Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), B.A. (with honors), 1966; McGill University, B.Arch., 1988, M.Arch., 1991, Ph.D., 2001. Politics: "Left." Religion: Roman Catholic.

ADDRESSES: Home—3908 Parc Lafontaine, Montreal, Quebec, H2L 3M6, Canada. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Architect and author. Anderson Architects, Westmount, Quebec, Canada, architect, 1986–87; Paulin & Larivière, Montreal, Quebec, architect, 1988–89; National Theatre School of Canada, Montreal, scenography division, lecturer, 1992–; Concordia University, Montreal, adjunct professor of art history, 2002–. McGill University School of Architecture, Montreal, invited lecturer, 1994–98; Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, visiting scholar, 2000, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow, 2001–03.

MEMBER: Society of Architectural Historians, Universities' Art Association of Canada, Canadian Centre for Architecture, National Gallery of Canada, Institut de Recherche en Histoire de l'Architecture, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

AWARDS, HONORS: American Institute of Architects International Book Award, 1994, for Ordonnance for the Five Kinds of Columns after the Method of the Ancients; Alice Wilson Award, Royal Society of Canada, 2002.


(Translator) Claude Perrault Ordonnance for the Five Kinds of Columns after the Method of the Ancients, Getty Center for History of Art and the Humanities (Santa Monica, CA), 1993.

Socrates' Ancestor: An Essay on Architectural Beginnings, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 1993.

Vitruvius: Writing the Body of Architecture, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics, Fifth Column, Chora, and Canadian Architect. Contributor to books, including Paper Palaces: The Rise of the Renaissance Architectural Treatise, edited by Vaughan Hart, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1998; The City Cultures Reader, edited by Malcolm Miles, Tim Hall, and Iain Borden, Routledge (New York, NY), 2000; and Figures de la ville et construction des saviors, edited by Frédéric Pousin, CNRS Editions (Paris, France), 2004.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Vitruvius and the State of Princes, a book-length project; research on architecture and the birth of the modern state.

SIDELIGHTS: Indra Kagis McEwen told CA: "A voracious reader since childhood, I had always imagined I would like to write, but had difficulty imaging what I might write about. As it turned out, I became an author by a rather circuitous route. In my mid-thirties, the mother of three very young children, I decided to become an architect, which I did, obtaining my profes-sional degree some five years later at McGill University in Montreal. But two years in practice quickly convinced me that the drafting room was definitely not my niche, and that what really interested me was the history and theory of architecture. So back to school (again) for studies with Alberto Péréz-Gómez. Only when MIT Press accepted my master's thesis for publication, and when the book (Socrates' Ancestor: An Essay on Architectural Beginnings) ended up doing surprisingly well in the highly specialized field of architectural history and theory, did I realize that I had become, almost by default, a scholar and writer.

"If my published work so far has focused primarily on the architecture of classical antiquity it has been largely due to the early influence of Joseph Rykwert, whose exceptional qualities as a writer (good writing is rare among writers on architecture) as much as his anti-positivist position on the question of architectural meaning was my initial inspiration. It was while working on my next book, Vitruvius: Writing the Body of Architecture, that my thinking began to take a political turn. My careful reading of this venerable ancient Roman author of the only work on architecture to have survived from classical antiquity forced me, almost reluctantly, to the realization that Vitruvius' De architectura, whatever else it later became, was written as a fundamentally political work, intended to present architecture to his patron, Augustus Caesar, as the ultimate legitimator of Roman world dominion. As a result, my current and ongoing research is directed toward the exploration of the political dimension of architecture."



Library Journal, June 15, 2003, Paul Glassman, review of Vitruvius: Writing the Body of Architecture, p. 67.

Review of Metaphysics, December, 2004, Carroll William Westfall, review of Vitruvius, p. 458.