Karen Lewis is an Associate Professor of Architecture at The Ohio State University whose research and teaching address how visual and information systems shape the architectural, territorial and infrastructural space they create and inhabit. She theorizes the entanglement of how these spaces rely upon and embed information into their structures, systems and organizational logics through design and writing. As an undergraduate at Wellesley College, Professor Lewis was introduced to complex spatial mapping and multi-dimensional graphics when studying astronomy. She worked in New York as a museum exhibition designer, user-interface designer, and a toy-design researcher before beginning her Masters in Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, completing her thesis on spatial logistics.
As Associate Professor of Architecture at The Ohio State University, Professor Lewis has expanded her research in the graphics of spatial complexity, turning her attention to the stories hidden within archives. She has held fellowships at Dumbarton Oaks, the Newberry Library, and through the National Endowment for the Humanities to study the 19th-century visualization strategies, maps and graphic tools of the transcontinental American west, with a focus on the visualizations of the Army Corps of Topographic Engineers. Her book, Graphic Design for Architects (Routledge 2015) pedagogically positions issues of architectural representation through the lens of information design and visual communication, and is one of the publisher’s best performing architecture publications of the 21st century. Professor Lewis’s current research visualizes the Underground Railroad, providing critical counter-narratives through mapping, drawing, and writing.