Rory O'Neill is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia GSAPP and an architectural historian (Ph.D., Columbia University Department of Art History and Archaeology), architect (M.Arch., GSAPP), and engineer (B.S., NC State). His research centers on the production of vertical space and sublime response to structural daring with a particular interest in the correlation of sacred space and the self-conscious presentation of structurally precarious forms in architecture, micro-architecture, sculpture, painting, and rhetoric. O’Neill has been teaching at GSAPP since 1993 and was one of the progenitors of the Paperless Studio (Newsline, “The Paperless Studio: A Digital Design Environment,” p. 10, Summer/Sept/Oct 1994). He worked as a designer in Germany, with projects built in Unterföhring and Berlin.
O’Neill’s expertise includes the structure of masonry buildings and adaptations of ancient and medieval architectural forms to seismic geography. His archaeological fieldwork has taken him to Cyprus, France, Italy, Greece, and Israel. Through the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Kress Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Humanities, and as a C.K. Williams Postdoctoral Fellow, O’Neill has been principal or co-director on projects contributing to his research, including The Archmap Project, Mapping Gothic France, Romanesque Churches of the Bourbonnais, Pre-modern Architecture and the Seismic Landscape (workshop series hosted at the University of Pennsylvania and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens) and Amiens II - Revelations (film, winner of an Architectural Record Computer Delineation Award and the SIGGRAPH Film Festival Educational Film Award).
To assist with his research, O’Neill has developed real-time physical simulation applications that allow for rapid design and analysis of masonry structures under static and seismic loading, one of which he featured in the PBS NOVA documentary Building the Great Cathedrals. O’Neill uses these applications in his teaching and in academic and consulting projects that foster collaboration between seismic engineers, archaeoseismologists, and architectural historians.
Recent publications include:
“Arch Identities: Structural Innovation and Tradition in the Medieval Levant,” in Architecture and Visual Culture in the Late Antique and Medieval Mediterranean: Studies in Honor of Robert G. Ousterhout, ed. by Vasileios Marinis, Amy Papalexandrou and Jordan Pickett (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols Publishers, 2021), pp. 127-143.
“Seismic Adaptation in the Latin Churches of Cyprus,” in Waiting for the End of the World?: New Perspectives on Natural Disasters in Medieval Europe, ed. by Christopher M. Gerrard, Paolo Forlin and P. J. Brown (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2021), pp. 62-81.