Lisa Schrenk

Professor of Architectural History


  • Architecture
  • Master of Architecture
  • School of Architecture
Lisa Schrenk

Areas of Expertise

  • Architecture of Chicago
  • Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Design of international expositions
  • World architecture and heritage


Lisa D. Schrenk PhD is Professor of Architectural History, joining CAPLA in 2012. She received a B.A. from Macalester College with degrees in studio art and geography, a Master’s Degree in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2006 and again in 2012 she was named a Charles A. Dana I Award recipient for excellence in teaching, research, and service at Norwich University. Other professional achievements include having her recent book The Oak Park Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright (University of Chicago Press, 2021) receive a coveted star review from Publishers Weekly and her book Building a Century of Progress: The Architecture of Chicago’s 1933-34 World’s Fair (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) named to Choice Review’s 2008 List of Outstanding Academic Titles. She received a Fulbright-Hays award to study sustainably development in Brazil and a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her research on the Oak Park studio, which she began while serving as Education Director for the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Foundation. In 2020 she was named AIA Arizona Community Educator of the Year, in part for initiating and serving as faculty advisor for the UA Women in Architecture Society.

In addition to being a leading authority on the architecture of international expositions and the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Dr. Schrenk has also presented papers and authored publications on Art Deco art and architecture, Radio Flyer wagons, twentieth-century pattern book houses, thin-shell concrete, and the architecture of India and Southeast Asia. She was a consultant and gave the opening lecture for the exhibit Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s at the National Building Museum in 2012 and curated the exhibit Women in Architecture: The Legacy of the Bauhaus in the United States at the University of Arizona and the AIA Arizona offices in Phoenix. Her academic research was the topic of a full-page article in the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Dr. Schrenk has served on numerous professional committees, including being elected to the Board of Directors for the Society of Architectural Historians and President of the Chicago Society of Architectural Historians. She is an expert member of ICOMOS's International Scientific Committee on the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites and is on the Faculty and Staff Council of Semester at Sea. In 2020 she co-founded the global Institute for the Study of International Expositions (ISIE) with colleagues in Australia and Scotland.

Dr. Schrenk has participated in several NEH and East-West Center enrichment programs on Asian culture. During the summer of 2009 she was a member of a delegation of 14 university educators from the United States and Southeast Asia that traveled to China as guests of the Chinese Ministry of Education. She returned to China the following year at the invitation of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai to give a lecture on Chinese presentations at American world’s fairs and to attend Expo 2010. In addition to her trips to Brazil and China, her extensive world travel has included visits to sites of architectural significance throughout the United States and Europe, as well as South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, UAE, Kazakhstan, Peru, Columbia, Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, and India. During the Spring 2015 and Fall 2018 semesters she lectured and taught courses on global architecture, sacred spaces, and urbanism as a faculty member on around-the-world Semester at Sea voyages. She shares both her firsthand experiences and photographs from her travels with students in her history/theory courses, with the public via her image blog AdventuresinArchitecture, and with colleagues through Artstor and SAHARA, a digital-image database sponsored by the Society of Architectural Historians.

News, Research and Projects

Eiffel Tower

Ketchup, the Telephone and Cherry Coke: CAPLA Scholar Explains How World's Fairs Bring Inventions to the Public

World's fairs introduced us to Heinz ketchup, the Ferris wheel, the telephone and countless other now-ubiquitous innovations. Lisa Schrenk, a CAPLA associate professor who studies world's fairs, has helped establish a new institute to study how the events impact global society. Learn more in this interview.