Michael J. Waters

Michael J. Waters

Renaissance Architecture; Italian Renaissance Art; History of Technology; Prints and Drawings
PhD, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 2015


Michael Waters studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Virginia, and the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, where he earned his PhD. Before coming to Columbia, he was the Scott Opler Research Fellow in Architectural History at Worcester College, University of Oxford. He has also held fellowships at the Villa I Tatti, American Academy in Rome, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, and Sir John Soane’s Museum.

His current book project, Renaissance Architecture in the Making, focuses on fifteenth-century Italian building culture and issues of materiality. This includes the significance of building materials, methods of facture, and processes of construction; the development of building technology; the production of knowledge through architectural practice; questions of architectural mimesis; the exchange between architecture and other modes of artistic production; and the dynamics of architectural reuse. He is similarly interested in issues of architectural mobility in the pre-industrial world from the movement of materials to the prefabrication and transportation of whole buildings.

Waters has also worked extensively on the study of antiquity in the Renaissance and the use and transmission of early modern architectural prints, drawings, and treatises. In 2011, he co-curated the exhibit Variety, Archeology, and Ornament: Renaissance Architectural Prints from Column to Cornice with Cammy Brothers at the University of Virginia Art Museum. His current research on this subject broadly traces the origins, production, circulation, replication, and transformation of mechanically produced architectural images over the long sixteenth century. In doing so, this project seeks to understand how prints were integrated into the inherently transmedial processes of architectural design, production, and exchange.

Selected Publications

“Architecture: Renaissance Building Culture between Production and Place,” in A Cultural History of Objects in the Renaissance, ed. James Symonds; in series A Cultural History of Objects, general editors Dan Hicks and William Whyte, 6 vols. (London: Bloomsbury, 2020). 

“Candelabra-Columns and the Lombard Architecture of Sculptural Assemblage,” in The Art of Sculpture in Fifteenth-Century Italy, ed. Amy Bloch and Daniel Zolli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). 

Hieronymus Cock’s Baths of Emperor Diocletian (1558) and the Diascopic Architectural Print,” in Continuous Page: Scrolls and Scrolling from Papyrus to Hypertext, ed. Jack Hartnell (London: Courtauld Books Online, 2020).

“Reviving Antiquity with Granite: Spolia and the development of Roman Renaissance Architecture,” Architectural History 59 (2016) : 149–179.

“Palazzo Talenti da Fiorenza, Bramante’s Canonica, and the afterlife of Bramantesque architecture in Milan,” Arte Lombarda 176/177, no. 1-2 (2016) : 101–115.

“Francesco di Giorgio and the Reconstruction of Antiquity: Epigraphy, archeology, and newly discovered drawings,” Pegasus - Berliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike 16 (2014) : 9–102.

“A Renaissance without Order: Ornament, Single-sheet Engravings, and the Mutability of Architectural Prints,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 71, no. 4 (Dec. 2012) : 488–523

Variety, Archeology, and Ornament: Renaissance architectural prints from column to cornice (University of Virginia Art Museum, 2011).