On the personal recommendation of Alan Turing, Lionel March was admitted to Magdalene College, Cambridge, to read mathematics under Dennis Babbage. He served as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Coastal Forces before taking up his State Scholarship at Cambridge. There he gained a first class degree in mathematics and architecture while taking an active part in Cambridge theater life. He was a member of the Footlights with Jonathan Miller and David Frost. As President of the Cambridge University Opera Group, he succeeded Peter Hemmings, now Managing Director of LAOpera. During this period he designed the settings for two plays and five operas including the London premiere of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress at Sadler's Wells. He held a one-man exhibition of artworks at the Institute for Contemporary Arts, London. In the early sixties, he was awarded an Harkness Fellowship of the Commonwealth Fund at the Joint Center for Urban Studies, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the directorships of Martin Meyerson and James Q Wilson. He returned to Cambridge and joined Sir Leslie Martin and Sir Colin Buchanan in preparing a plan for a national and government center for Whitehall. He was the first Director of the Centre for Land Use and Built Form Studies, now the Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies, Cambridge University. As founding Chairman of the Board of the private computer-aided design company, Applied Research of Cambridge (later owned by McDonnell Douglas, and then EDS under General Motors), he and his colleagues were among the first contributors to the 'Cambridge Phenomenon' - the dissemination of Cambridge scholarship into high-tech industries. In 1978, he was awarded the Doctor of Science degree for mathematical and computational studies related to contemporary architectural and urban problems.
Before coming to Los Angeles he was Rector and Vice-Provost of the Royal College of Art, London. During his Rectorship he served as a Governor of Imperial College of Science and Technology. He has held full Professorships in Systems Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Ontario; and in Design Technology at The Open University, Milton Keynes. At The Open University, as Chair, he doubled the faculty in Design and established the Centre for Configurational Studies. He came to UCLA in 1984 as a Professor in the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning. He was Chair of Architecture and Urban Design from 1985-91. He is currently Professor in Design and Computation and a member of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He was a member of UCLA's Council on Academic Personnel from 1993, and its Chair for 1995/6.
He is a General Editor of Cambridge Architectural and Urban Studies (1972- ), and Founding Editor of the journal Planning and Design (1974 - present). The journal is one of four sections of Environment and Planning(1968 - present ) which stands at "the top of the citation indexes". Among the books he has authored and edited are: The Geometry of Environment, Urban Space and Structures, The Architecture of Form, and R. M. Schindler: Composition and Construction. His most recent research publications include: 'The smallest interesting world?', 'Babbage's miraculous computation revisited', 'Rulebound unruliness', 'Renaissance mathematics and architectural proportion in Alberti's De re aedificatoria.' , and 'Architectonics of proportion: a shape grammatical depiction of classical theory'. His book Architectonics of Humanism: Essays on Number in Architecture before The First Moderns , a companion volume to Rudolf Wittkower's Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism is to be published together with a new edition of the Wittkower, in the Fall 1998. The book relates the renaissance of classical mathematics to design practices during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Lionel March was born in Hove, Sussex, England on 26 January 1934. Since 1985, he and his wife Maureen Mary have been restoring R M Schindler's landmark How House in Silver Lake. Together they have six children and seven grandchildren.