PLAN 81: Article
A Trusted and Valued Advisor and Colleague
Lois Craig, Associate Dean of SA+P in the 1980s and early 90s, died March 23 in Chicago after a long illness. She was 82.
A trusted and valued advisor to many architecture students and graduates during her years at MIT, Craig was highly regarded for her intellectual contributions to her field and her understanding of administrative issues, as well as for her wisdom, humanity and grace. In nominating her to the AIA in 1989, the Boston Society of Architects said that Craig had made ‘an unusually comprehensive contribution to our profession, to the art and science of architecture and to the public.’
Before coming to MIT in 1978, Craig was director of the Federal Architecture Project at the National Endowment for the Arts, the US government’s effort to improve federal building programs. In that pioneering role she contributed to the development of new designer-selection procedures, new legislation governing public building and the first comprehensive history of federal government architecture. The Federal Presence: Architecture, Politics and National Design – developed with the staff of the Federal Architecture Project – was published by the MIT Press in1978.
Previously, she served as professional staff for the National Urban Coalition, Housing and Urban Growth Division, interpreting the impact of legislation, court decision, government programs and local initiatives on land use and housing opportunities. Before that, she was research director for the communications division of Urban America, Inc., and Senior Editor at CITY Magazine.
Craig wrote frequently for professional journals on employment and housing issues, and on architecture and urban design, and served as advisor to a range of design projects and programs. She held a Presidential appointment to the board of the National Institute of Building Sciences and served on the Board of Advisors for the Guggenheim Productions/Public Television series on American design.
She was also appointed to the board of directors of the National Museum of the Building Arts and served as a consultant on federal building legislation to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. An honorary member of the AIA, she received an NEA Design Achievement Award in 1988 for her contribution to the Massachusetts Governor’s Design Awards Program.
Until her retirement in 1995, Craig was deeply involved in developing The Boston Suburbs Project, a repository of nearly 7000 slides, maps and texts documenting the city’s surrounding towns. With the help of a donation from the estate of librarian Merrill Smith, who worked closely with Craig on the project, the Rotch Library of Architecture and Planning has been digitizing and cataloging the images for the past two years and expects to post them online within the next few months; the entire collection will continue to be available on site.
Craig was born in Quincy IL and attended Oberlin College and New York University, where she received a BA in Political Science in1953. She pursued graduate studies in art and art history at American University and received a Loeb Fellowship in Advanced Environmental Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Her husband, Stephen Prokopoff, was a well-known museum director and curator in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Champaign IL, and Iowa City. After Prokopoff’s death in 2001, Craig donated his vast collection of rare 19th and 20th century violin sheet music to MIT’s Lewis Music Library. Since then, the library has hosted an annual student concert based on the Prokopoff Collection; the next of those concerts is scheduled for May 4.
Craig is survived by her sister Marion Dodd; her children Stephen, Carolyn and Jennifer Craig; by Stephen's wife Sharon Kiddon; and by her granddaughter Corrina Craig. She is also survived by two stepsons, Sasha and Ilya Prokopoff. Her first husband, Peter Craig, a prominent attorney and civic activist in Washington DC, died in 2009.
Craig lived in Washington, Boston, Champaign, Iowa City and Chicago, in addition to maintaining an apartment in Paris. A memorial service is planned in Boston in the near future, but no date has yet been set.