Leonard J. Currie Exhibition, University Libraries

A smiling man wearing a beret standing beside a railing, with the city of Chicago far below .
Leonard Currie on top of the John Hancock Building, Chicago, while visiting the building with former and future President of Peru, Arq. Fernando Belaúnde. May 1969.
Photo probably by Belaúnde

Leonard J. Currie

Leonard J. Currie (1913-1996) was an architect, administrator, and educator. He studied architecture at Harvard with Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer during their first year of teaching together. In 1941 he participated in the reconstruction of the Mayan ruins at Copán in Honduras and remained engaged with Latin America for the rest of his life. In 1951 he accepted the position as founding director of the Inter-American Housing Center (CINVA) in Bogotá, an Organization of American States program to alleviate a housing crisis for the poor in Latin America.

From 1956 to 1962, Currie served as head of the Virginia Tech architecture department in Blacksburg, Virginia. He built several houses in Blacksburg, including the award-winning Currie House for his own family. In 1962 he moved to Chicago to become founding dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) new College of Architecture and Art. At the time, UIC was transitioning from a two-year campus on Navy Pier to a four-year university at the new Chicago Circle campus designed by SOM.

Currie retired from UIC in 1981. He returned to Blacksburg, where he set up a private architectural practice to design houses, churches, and business buildings. He served architectural needs of the poor through Habitat for Humanity and his pro-bono architecture clinic.

For biographies see:

Vernon Mays, “William C. Noland Medal, Leonard J. Currie, FAIA.”  Inform, 1994 special issue, pp. 34-5.

Humberto Rodríguez-Camilloni, “Currie, Leonard James.” Dictionary of Virginia Biography: Caperton-Daniels, Library of Virginia, 2006, vol. 3, pp. 608-610.

Art and Architecture Library

The Art and Architecture Library in Cowgill Hall is displaying an exhibition of images from Leonard Currie’s collection of 35mm slides during the 2020-21 academic year. The exhibit focuses on Currie’s career before arriving at Virginia Tech and his personal architecture, the houses he designed for his family.

The menu items in the left sidebar are based on the Art and Architecture Library exhibit.

Virginia Tech Digital Library Virtual Exhibition

Please note that the the virtual exhibit works better with computers than mobile devices.


A photogrammetry derived model of a cast bronze bust of Leonard Currie by C. Dean Carter

Special Collections and University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives in Newman Library houses the Leonard and Virginia Currie Archive. Contact specref@vt.edu for information.

For more photos please visit the Virginia Tech L.J. Currie Slides public collection in Artstor.

For information about the Leonard and Virginia Currie archives contact Virginia Tech Special Collections and University Archives at specref@vt.edu

Special thanks to undergraduate assistants Carolyn Buonforte and Irene Baron for their research and ideas for the Art and Architecture Library exhibit and this site. And to Barbara Joe, Leonard and Virginia Currie’s daughter, for donating the slides to Virginia Tech libraries on behalf of the family. Steve Tatum, Digital Collections and Arts Curator, Virginia Tech University Libraries.

Site updated 2022-01-14