Remembering KU architecture professor Lou Michel

LAWRENCE – Former University of Kansas architecture professor Louis Francis “Lou” Michel passed away at the age of 91 on October 1st, 2023, in Bellingham, Washington.  

A Celebration of Life ceremony will take place on Thursday, November 9, at 11:00 a.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church in Bellingham. The celebration will be broadcast via livestream on Trinity Lutheran's website

As a professor of architectural history for 30 years, Michel introduced hundreds of KU students to art, architecture, and historical perspectives through lectures that leveraged his unique ability to communicate scholarly expertise with quotable clarity and the thousands of photographs he captured on 35mm slide film in countries around the world. Michel donated his photographic collection to the KU School of Architecture & Design in 2019.  

KU alumnus Joel Orton, reflecting on his time as a young architecture student, said, “As a kid from Kansas, I had never been out of the country, but through (Lou Michel’s) lectures and slide shows I was able to travel the world and learn to appreciate hundreds of historic sites and structures. Later in life, when I was able to travel internationally, I would think of Lou and his lectures whenever I visited a building or site he had told us about.” 

Michel’s legacy of educational impact at KU continued through his former colleagues and the students he mentored. After he retired from the architecture department in 2000, nearly 100 alumni and faculty members established a scholarship in his honor. In 2020, Class of 1979 architecture alumnus Scott Davies, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, honored his former professor with a $1 million gift commitment through the KU Endowment that established the Lou Michel Architecture Professorship in Design Theory.   

Michel was born June 11, 1932, in Sandusky, Ohio to Dorothea and Ludwig Michel. He was preceded in death by his parents and three brothers Edward, Thomas, and Ronald. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Diane Carol Michel, his four children, two stepchildren, and eight grandchildren. 

Donations in Michel’s honor can be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or the KU Endowment Association funds that honor him ­– the Lou Michel Architecture Scholarship and Lou Michel Architecture Professorship in Design Theory.