Lawrence Chua
Associate Professor

Ph.D. History of Architecture and Urban Development, Cornell University

Lawrence Chua is a historian of the modern built environment with an emphasis on the trans-regional histories of Asian architecture and urban cultures. He is the author of Bangkok Utopia: Modern Architecture and Buddhist Felicities, published in the University of Hawai’i Press’ Spatial Habitus series in 2021. His current research project examines the chronopolitics and temporal entanglements of modern architecture and the pre-modern built environment in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It traces the crossed histories of the region’s architectural and epigraphical fragments from the pre-colonial past into the present to argue that although architectural modernity is typically narrated as a new conception of time rooted in the present, modernism in Southeast Asia was also oriented toward “medieval” and “classical” pasts. Another ongoing research project looks at the history of hip hop as a critique of the principles of architectural modernism. His writing has appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, October, the Journal of Urban History, Fabrications, the Journal of Architecture, Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, and Southeast of Now. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians and positions: asia critique. He is co-editor of the ArchAsia book series for Hong Kong University Press. He also serves as co-chair of the Race and Architectural History Affiliate Group of the Society of Architectural Historians.

Dr. Chua was most recently a scholar in residence at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. He has been a Marie S. Curie Junior Fellow of the European Union at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität and a research fellow at the Getty Research Institute, the Center for Khmer Studies, and the International Institute of Asian Studies at Universiteit Leiden. At Syracuse University, he teaches courses in the histories of global modern architecture, Chinese architecture, Buddhist architecture, postcolonial utopias, and monuments, memory, and melancholia. As a Faculty Fellow in the Special Collections Research Center 2024-2025, he will be developing a course on the spatial histories of LGBTQ+ communities in Syracuse. Dr. Chua has taught courses in the history and theory of architecture and urbanism as well as studio courses at Hamilton College, New York University, and Chulalongkorn University. He received his PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban Development from Cornell University in 2012. He has been the recipient of a publication grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, an International Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council, a Mellon Graduate Fellowship at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, an Asian Cultural Council research grant, and a visiting scholar fellowship from the Central New York Humanities Corridor. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, he is a founding board member with the artists Julie Mehretu and Paul Pfeiffer, of Denniston Hill, a not-for-profit arts center.

Photo by Timothy Gerken

Lectures and Papers

Selected lectures and talks

The Museum of Contemporary Art - In Conversation: Paul Pfeiffer, Julie Mehretu, and Lawrence Chua


DIGITAL PORCH CONVERSATION -> Melancholia with Lawrence Chua, Nana Adusei-Poku, Gregg Bordowitz, and Arnika Fuhrmann

[Architalk Webinar Series] #3 Modernism and Architecture in Southeast Asia


ParaSite Conference 2019


Fundamentals in Architecture: Politics