Dr. Francesca Torello
Francesca Torello is a historian of architecture and the built environment. She was trained as an architect and holds a Master’s degree from the interdisciplinary program in Architecture and Urban Culture “Metropolis" at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya/Centre de Cultura Contemporania in Barcelona. She also earned a Ph.D. in Architectural History, Urban History, and Preservation from the Politecnico di Torino, Italy, for which she worked in Vienna, Austria with the support of the Technische Universität Wien. Since 2007, Francesca has been based in Pittsburgh where she teaches for the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture.
Francesca’s studies focus on how architects become audience and participants in the cultural debates of their era, how changes in architectural education have an impact on the built environment, and how the collaboration of architectural history and practice plays out today and in its historical iterations. Her recent work is situated at the intersection of architecture, the humanities, and digital media. She has developed interdisciplinary projects and courses that apply technology and digital tools to the study of architectural history.
Her current projects address the role of space as catalyst – and sometimes protagonist – of the passage to modernity in turn-of-the-century Vienna. As a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago in 2016 she researched the changing geographies of travel and tourism in the Mediterranean between 1870 and 1910, with particular regard to archaeological sites. Francesca also conducts research on the role of plaster casts in the culture and pedagogy of architecture during the Gilded Age and their meaning as precursors of virtual reality. Recently she designed an app with CMU SoA colleague Josh Bard for the project Plaster ReCast to provide visitors of cast collections with an augmented reality experience.