Born in Chicago, Illinois, Lynch enrolled at Yale University but left before earning a degree to study under architect Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. After nearly two years with Wright he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York to study engineering, but again did not graduate, choosing instead to work for Chicago architect Paul Schweikher. During World War II, Lynch was drafted into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he served in the Philippines and Japan until 1944. After returning to the United States, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning a B.A. in city planning in 1947. Following graduation, Lynch relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, to serve as an urban planner but was soon recruited to MIT as a lecturer, earning an assistant professorship and then a full professorship in 1949 and 1963, respectively. In 1954 he received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study urban experience in Italy,shortly followed by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to study perceptions of the urban environments with colleague Gyorgy Kepes. Lynch and Kepes subsequently published their research in the 1960 book The Image of the City. In 1970 Lynch was granted funding by UNESCO to study how young people navigated and perceived the urban landscapes of Salta, Melbourne, Toluca, and Krakow, after which he summarized his findings in the book Growing Up in Cities. Both of Lynch’s publications were groundbreaking in their use of empirical research to understand how individuals perceive and navigate cityscapes. Outside of his academic work, Lynch partnered with Stephen Carr in the urban-planning firm Carr, Lynch & Associates in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Lynch’s urban planning work was particularly influential in both San Diego and Los Angeles. He died on Martha’s Vineyard of a heart attack at the age of 66.