Born and raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Scully attended Hillhouse High School. At the age of 16, he entered Yale University. He earned his BA degree from Yale in 1940, his M.A. in 1947, and his Ph.D in 1949. He taught classes at Yale from 1947, often to packed lecture rooms. He was also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Miami. Scully officially retired from Yale in 1991, but continued giving courses there and at the University of Miami. He announced in 2009, however, at the age of 89, that he was no longer well enough to continue teaching.
Scully's early advocacy was critical to the emergence of both Louis I. Kahn and Robert Venturi as important 20th-century architects. Scully was a fierce critic of the 1963 destruction of New York's original Pennsylvania Station, memorably writing of it that, "One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat."
In 1999, the Vincent Scully Prize was established by the National Building Museum to honor individuals who have exhibited exemplary practice, scholarship or criticism in architecture, historic preservation and urban design. Scully himself was the first honoree.
In 2004, President George W. Bush presented Scully with the National Medal of Arts, the United States' highest honor for artists and arts patrons. The medal citation read: "For his remarkable contributions to the history of design and modern architecture, including his influential teaching as an architectural historian."
American Architecture and Urbanism. Revised Edition. 2013 Trinity University Press
The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture Revised Edition. 2013 Trinity University Press
Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade
The Villas of Palladio
The Shingle Style: Architectural Theory and Design from Richardson to the Origins of Wright. 1955, Library of Congress catalog card number 55-5988
Frank Lloyd Wright 1960
Louis I. Kahn. 1962, George Braziller Inc.
Modern Architecture - The Architecture of Democracy 1961, 1974
The Earth, the Temple, and the Gods: Greek Sacred Architecture 1962.
American Architecture and Urbanism 1969
The Shingle Style Today 1974
Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance 1989* Modern Architecture and Other Essays 2003
"An Interview with Vincent Scully by Yehuda Safran and Daniel Sherer," Potlatch 4 (2016).