Esther da Costa Meyer

Professor Emeritus
History of Modern Architecture


Professor da Costa Meyer teaches modern architecture and contemporary architecture. A native of Brazil, she specializes in issues of cultural translation involving architecture focusing on buildings erected by colonial powers in the Global South, as well as the emerging cultures of resistance that were themselves highly hybrid, transnational, and diasporic. Interested in issues pertaining to gender and design, she has published on architects Lilly Reich, Charlotte Perriand, and Lina Bo Bardi. Her curatorial work includes the exhibition and catalogue Schoenberg, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider, co-curated with Fred Wasserman (The Jewish Museum, New York) and, more recently, an exhibition of the drawings of Frank Gehry, Frank Gehry: On Line (Princeton University Art Museum). Also interested in the historic avant-gardes in architecture, she has published a book on the Italian futurist Antonio Sant’Elia.

Professor de Costa Meyer holds associate faculty appointments in the School of Architecture, the Department of French and Italian, Princeton Environmental Institute, the Program in Urban Studies, and the Program in Latin American Studies, and is an affiliate faculty member in the Center for African American Studies.

Teaching Interests

In addition to 19th-century architecture and urbanism, Prof. da Costa Meyer teaches courses on contemporary architecture in its interaction with globalization, neoliberalism, and environmental change, connections that challenge the anthropocentric, monographic models of traditional architectural historiography.

Current Research

Professor da Costa Meyer has recently completed a book manuscript on urban change and social history in 19th-century Paris, and is currently preparing an exhibition of the work of Pierre Chareau, the French architect and designer.


Ph.D., Yale University, 1987

Selected Publications

“Drawn into the Future: Urban Visions by Chiattone and Sant'Elia,” in Italian Futurism, 1909–1944: Reconstructing the Universe, ed. Walter Adamson, Emily Braun, Silvia Barisione and Vivien Greene (Guggenheim Museum, 2014).

“The City Within,” in Space and Psyche, ed. Elizabeth A. Danze and Stephen M. Sonnenberg (Center for American Architecture and Design, 2013).

“Mass-Producing Nature: Municipal Parks in Second Empire Paris,” in Public Nature: Scenery, History, and Park Design, ed. Ethan Carr, Shawn Eyring, and Richard Guy Wilson (University of Virginia Press, 2013).

“Countercurrents: Modernism Interpellated,” in Simon Starling, Superflex: Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests (Sternberg, 2012).

Frank Gehry: On Line (Princeton University Art Museum/Yale University Press, 2008).

“Gesamtkunstwerk, or the Politics of Wholeness,” in Gustav Klimt: Painting, Design and Modern Life, ed. Tobias G. Natter and Christoph Grunenberg (Tate, 2008).

“Speak, Memory,” Artforum International 44.5 (January 2006).

“Schoenberg’s Echo: The Composer as Painter,” in Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider, coedited with Fred Wasserman (The Jewish Museum/Scala, 2003).

“Simulated Domesticities: Charlotte Perriand before Le Corbusier,” in Charlotte Perriand, ed. Mary McLeod (Abrams, 2003).

The Work of Antonio Sant’Elia: Retreat into the Future (Yale University Press, 1995).

History of Modern Architecture
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