A native of France and a resident of Historic Greenbelt, Isabelle Gournay received a professional degree in architecture from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and a doctorate in art history from Yale University.
She co-edited Paris on the Potomac. The French Influence on the Architecture and Art of Washington, D.C. Ohio University Press, 2007 and authored The New Trocadéro (Pierre Mardaga - Institut Français d'Architecture, 1985) and the A.I.A. Guide to the Architecture of Atlanta (University of Georgia Press, 1992), as well as numerous articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries published in the U.S., France, Great Britain, Canada, Italy and Holland.
On behalf of the Canadian Center for Architecture, she guest curated the exhibition Ernest Cormier and the Université de Montréal (1990) and Montréal Metropolis 1880-1930 (with France Vanlaethem, 1998) and edited their companion publications.
Prof. Gournay has been the lead researcher (with Professor Mary Corbin Sies, American Studies) for a groundbreaking study of the Modern Movement in Maryland sponsored by the Maryland Historical Trust. With the help of graduate students in Historic Preservation, Profs. Sies and Gournay have authored many National Register nominations and helped save modernist landmarks from demolition, including the Lustine automobile showroom in Hyattsville.
Many of her publications explore connections between urbanism, architecture and housing in France and the United States, such as the impact of the U.S. home builder Levitt around Paris. Her current research focus is on "Architecture Students at the École des Beaux-arts and the North American Scene." The resulting book, undertaken with Marie-Laure Crosnier-Leconte, conservateur en chef du Patrimoine and with the support of the Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art in Paris, will provide the first comprehensive synthesis on the extraordinary contribution of these American, Canadian and French designers and teachers to the history of Western architecture and to social history in the United States and Canada, between 1850 and 1940, as well as their little known but significant impact abroad and on Franco-American relations. In Fall'10, Prof. Gournay will be a scholar-in-residence at the INHA to work full time on this project.