Jan Jennings

Web Bio Page

Current Activities

Current Professional Activities
Jennings is a former co-editor of Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum (2002-2006). She continues her service with the Vernacular Architecture Forum as a member of the Special Series in Vernacular Architecture publications committee. She is a former chair of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Interior Design and a former president of the Society for Commercial Archeology.

At Cornell, in addition to the field of Design and Environmental Analysis, Jennings belongs to the graduate fields of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

Current Research Activities

Jennings' current book project is Inside-Out: American Modern Vernacular Buildings, 1870-1960, co-authored with Herbert Gottfried, to be published by W.W. Norton in 2009. Inside Out interprets vernacular architecture as the product of the competing desires for interior convenience and exterior style. It provides an overview of building and plan types for houses, commercial buildings, and churches, showing the development of key design elements and how they have been incorporated into American architecture

In addition to design history studies, Jennings directs the INTERIOR ARCHETYPES RESEARCH AND TEACHING PROJECT, initiated in 1997 at Cornell. The inTypes Project creates a typology of contemporary interior design practices that have not been named, thereby providing designers with an interior-specific, history-specific, and contemporary design-specific vocabulary. It is the first project of its kind to assemble contemporary design theory in an interactive and searchable database using primary source imagery. The key deliverable of Interior Archetypes is its web site.

Jennings also directs an EXHIBITION AND INSTALLATION DESIGN PROGRAM for undergraduate and graduate students.


Biographical Statement
Jan Jennings, a Professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, is a multi-disciplinarian by education, training and work experience in the fields of interior design, historic preservation and urban planning. From 1969 to 1973 she was one of three principal planners with the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission who directed the preparation of the metropolitan area's Comprehensive Plan update (Vision 2000) and designed and administered the citizen participation element of the Plan revision. She opened and directed Oklahoma’s first city-supported preservation office for the City of Tulsa. From 1979 to 1993, Jennings was a principal in the historic preservation consultant firm Jennings.Gottfried.Cheek/Preservationists, providing services that promoted historic preservation design and the conservation of the built environment. In 1991 Jennings studied at the Winterthur Museum and Library as a Benno M. Forman Fellow. Prior to Cornell Jennings taught interior design at Iowa State University in the Department of Art, College of Design.

Jennings' scholarship in the field of history, theory and criticism of architecture and interior design focuses on ordinary American buildings and interiors, as well as contemporary interior design theory. In 2007 she was awarded a Faculty Innovation Grant for the Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project.


Courses, Websites, Pubs

Courses Taught
DEA 201. Design Studio III
DEA 251. History & Theory of the Interior [lecture]
DEA 460. designCity [field study]
DEA 668. Design Theory & Criticism [graduate seminar]

Related Websites

Cornell Design Exchange http://designexchange.cornell.edu http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/dea201/menu.htm http://instruct1.cit.cornell.edu/courses/dea251.menu.htm



Jennings, Jan. Cheap and Tasteful Dwellings: Practical Architects and The Convenient Interior, 1879-1909. Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 2005. [nominated for the 2007 Alice Davis Hitchcock Award with the Society of Architectural Historians, the 2006 and 2007 Abbott Lowell Cummings Award for excellence in scholarly writing about vernacular architecture, 2006 Mary Ellen LoPresti Award with the Art Libraries of North America/Southeast Chapter]

Jennings, Jan, ed. Roadside America: The Automobile in Design and Culture. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1993.

Jan Jennings and Herbert Gottfried. American Vernacular Interior Architecture, 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988; rpt. Iowa State University Press, 1993.

Gottfried, Herbert and Jennings, Jan. American Vernacular Design, 1870-1940. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985; rpt. Iowa State University Press, 1988.

Selected Articles
"A Case for Typology: The Interior Archetypes Project”, Journal of Interior Design 32, no. 3 (2007): 48-68.
"The Dialectic of New and Old; Theory Investigations in Studio Design," Interiors and Sources (March 2003): 74-77.
"Object-Context-Design: The State of Interior Design History," Journal of Interior Design, 24, no. 2 (1998),1-3.
"Controlling Passion: The Turn-of-the-Century Wallpaper Dilemma," Winterthur Portfolio 31, no. 4 (Winter 1996): 243-264.
"Drawing on the Vernacular Interior," Winterthur Portfolio 27, no. 4 (Winter 1992): 256-79.
"Frank J. Grodavent: Western Army Architect," Essays and Monographs in Colorado History. Denver: State Historical Society of Colorado, No. 11, 1990, 1-23.