Carnegie Mellon University

Diane Shaw

Diane Shaw

Associate Professor, School of Architecture

Address Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue,
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Diane Shaw is an architectural historian in the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to teaching CMU's survey of world architecture, her research and teaching interests include vernacular architecture and regional traditions of North America, urban design history in the U.S., and the interpretation and preservation of cultural landscapes. Expanding the traditional disciplinary definition of an “Americanist,” she also teaches a course on Mesoamerican, Spanish Colonial, and Modern Latin American architecture. Professor Shaw has won several teaching honors including the Henry Hornbostel Teaching Award from the CMU’s College of Fine Arts.

Shaw’s publications emphasize the cultural context behind the architecture of the more typical and often overlooked urban landscapes. She is particularly interested in the physical and social constructions of public space at various urban scales. Her interdisciplinary study City Building on the Eastern Frontier: Sorting the New 19th-Century City (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004) developed the concept of vernacular urbanism as a method of examining the intertwined urban, architectural, and social processes that created a new type of city along the Erie Canal. She has also published on the ways in which nineteenth-century residents of a colonial Maryland town used architecture to push across their town across the vernacular threshold and into urban and urbane status. Drawing on the medieval English Assize of Nuisance records she has investigated the ways that nuisance laws and building codes protected property-based definitions of personal privacy within the dense medieval fabric of London, England.