Trained as an architect and an architectural/urban historian, Michele Lamprakos specializes in the early modern/modern Arab-Islamic world. Her research focuses on two main themes: the lives and layers of buildings and sites; and contacts between faith-cultures in the Mediterranean. She began her career as a development worker in Egypt, where she managed a project to revive the cottage silk industry in the Nile Delta. Through this work she developed a deep interest in material culture and the role it can play in transforming people's lives. This led her to the study of architecture and later, architectural/urban history and critical heritage studies.
Lamprakos’ career has combined teaching, research, and practice in architecture and historic preservation. Her book Building a World Heritage City: Sanaa Yemen (Ashgate, 2015) received the Society of Architectural Historians’ Spiro Kostof Award, Honorable Mention in 2018. She lectures widely and has organized international symposia, including “Heritage and the Arab Spring” (Freer Gallery of Art, 2014; with Nancy Um) which brought together archaeologists, anthropologists, architects, architectural historians, and preservation specialists to explore the role of cultural heritage in a new and shifting Middle East. Her current book project on the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba looks at the changing fabric and meaning of the building as mosque, cathedral, historic monument, and symbol of the Islamic past in Spain.
Lamprakos has taught at Duke University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her seminars and lecture courses are thematic and cross-cultural, exploring parallels in, and contacts between, the Islamic world and Europe. She has also taught studios in architectural design, adaptive reuse, and preservation that address a wide range of urban conditions in the US and abroad. Her professional work has included design and preservation for buildings that range in scale from federal properties and tobacco warehouses to prewar single-family homes. Lamprakos served as Technical Reviewer for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (2010 and 2013 Award cycles), evaluating urban rehabilitation projects in Albania, Morocco, and Palestine, and a new museum at Madinat al-Zahra archeological site near Cordoba, Spain.