Just Beneath the Surface: A review of Cityscapes of New Orleans by Richard Campanella, Landscape Architecture Magazine (January 2019)

Reviewed by Amber N. Wiley


New Orleans is ubiquitous in our collective imagination because of its robust sense of place. Tourism brochures and conference programs essentialize the city—its food, music, architecture, and nightlife. In Cityscapes of New Orleans, the geographer Richard Campanella implores the reader to observe the city, mind the details, and ask questions gleaned from tiny clues. He does this by presenting a series of vignettes that span the 300-year history of New Orleans. Campanella argues that there are always new lessons to learn from each discovery, lessons that can guide us about how to exist within the particular cultural geography of New Orleans.

Cityscapes is a collection of 77 essays that Campanella published in various journals, newspapers, and venues between 2010 and 2017. These essays had specific and limited audiences: Some were published in Preservation in Print, the magazine of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, others in Louisiana Cultural Vistas, the magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. More content was pulled from Cityscapes, Campanella’s monthly column in NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, as well as guest editorials he wrote for online journals such as Places and New Geography.

The essays are readily accessible to any individual who has baseline knowledge of New Orleans. Campanella envisioned the book as a reader, and it is not divided into strictly defined chapters, but along permeable themes: “People, Patterns, and Place,” “Architectural Geographies and the Built Environment,” “Urban Geographies,” “Regional Geographies,” and finally, “Disaster and Recovery.” The writings flow into each other in a way that makes sense—one can often find the connection between two essays in succession. The essays range from pithy, such as the two-page final musing “New Orleans as Metaphor,” to quite lengthy, like the eight-page piece titled “What the Nation’s Best-Educated Amateur Planners Learned from Hurricane Isaac. And Gustav. And Rita and Katrina. And Cindy, Ivan, Lili, Isidore, and Georges…” Cityscapes is richly illustrated, despite the nontraditional nature of the volume.

To read the full article, visit: https://landscapearchitecturemagazine.org/2019/01/11/just-beneath-the-surface/

Power Panel:

Amber was invited to speak on a panel about Power at “A Convergence at the Confluence of Power, Identity and Design” symposium that was hosted by Women In Design at the Harvard GSD.

This Convergence marks the formation of a regional network of equity-focused design-centric student groups focused on re-imagining the intersection between identity and design. We hope that this event can be the start of a wide-spread dialogue about the importance of identity-based discourse in the practice and pedagogy of design of the built environment, as well as an opportunity to form a network of equity-focused design-student groups and merge these ongoing conversations in our disciplines. We hope to seize the opportunity to grow and merge the many individual conversations about gender and other identity-based discrimination happening in our disciplines and in our schools. The SAM list did not tell us anything we did not already know; however, it did spark broad conversation where there had been uneasy silence. The Convergence breaks that silence, and invites us to engage in a collective restructuring of the design disciplines and actively question the nature of design work as it intersects with gender and other personal identities. Panelists: Stephanie Lee (Spaceus; M.Arch Cand., MIT) Amber N. Wiley (Asst. Prof. of Art History, Rutgers) Chandra Rouse (GSD AASU; MUP Cand., GSD Meral Ekincioglu Fellow, MIT) Teresa Gali-Izard (Arquitectura Agronomia; Assoc. Prof. of LA, GSD) Bryony Roberts (Bryony Roberts Studio; Visiting Prof., GSAPP)

Teen Vogue: SCAD Building Named After Clarence Thomas Sparks Opposing Petitions

Amber was quoted in a Teen Vogue article that highlighted controversy over the naming of the Clarence Thomas Center for Historic Preservation in the era of the #metoo movement, and in light of the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings:

Yale University and other institutions such as University of Michigan have recently adopted policies about how to deal with requests to reconsider names of existing buildings. In 2017 Yale changed the name of Calhoun College, which was named after John C. Calhoun, the seventh U.S. vice president and a white supremacist who once called slavery a “positive good.” They renamed it after Yale alum Grace Murray Hopper, a computer science pioneer. Michigan announced earlier this year it will be changing the name of two buildings after the legacies of their namesakes were called into question.

Amber Wiley, assistant professor of art history at Rutgers University, researches architecture, urbanism, and African American cultural studies. She attended Yale as an undergraduate, where she says she witnessed firsthand the impact that being in Calhoun College had on students of color. “Place names are so important. They carry a lot of weight,” she says. “The kind of emotional and psychological toll that this plays on people who attend these universities, who have to sit in the classrooms in the building, this is not a thing to just take lightly. [They feel] the burden of history.”

Wiley says that in some ways, the discussion about Calhoun at Yale was much more straightforward than the current situation at SCAD because Calhoun’s pro-slavery views were well documented — and Calhoun died in the 1800s.


To read the full article, visit: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/scad-clarence-thomas-building-petitions

The Top 5 Most Popular SAH Blog Posts

Since 2012, the Society of Architectural Historians Blog has covered a variety of topics related to the history of the built environment. Articles have addressed issues concerning politics, preservation, and pedagogy, some have focused on the work of a specific architect or building types, and others have provided readers with useful resources. The blog has also housed the monthly reports of SAH’s H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellows as they document their journeys around the world.

Beata Maryam Addis Ababa
Amber Wiley’s blog post, “The New Flower: Addis Ababa and the Project of African Modernity” from her time as the inaugural H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow, came in at number five.

To see the other four most popular SAH Blog posts of all time please click here.

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 2018

Wiley Speaking to AAS '18


Special | 1h 24m 2s

Five outstanding Oklahoma educators and 100 of the state’s top public high school seniors are recognized at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 31st Academic Awards Banquet.  Amber Wiley, Academic All-State Alumnus ’99, was invited back to speak with current Academic All-Staters, and to introduce one of the educator awardees during the banquet program.

Aired: 06/01/18

Rating: NR

Wiley OFE Banquet 2018



The event does not seek answers, only ideas. Charlottesville is many things and we seek to draw strength from varied perspectives and approaches. We want to address the challenge of designing public space in this climate, not just with words but with landscape materials, form and space. Landscape Perspectives for Future Publics hosts a panel of invited landscape architects and academics to present their ‘visions’ for Charlottesville. These proposals may be hopeful, bleak, abstract, real, or somewhere in-between. A discussion will follow challenging what it means for the practice and praxis of landscape architecture to be more inclusive, representative and equitable.

Benjamin C. Howland Panel Invited Presenters + Panelists: Kofi Boone, Alexa Bush, Garnette Cadogan, Azzurra Cox, Frank Dukes, Walter Hood, Amber Wiley, Sara Zewde Moderated by: Elgin Cleckley, UVA School of Architecture

This panel is presented in coordination with the Benjamin C. Howland Lecture, by Walter Hood, on April 19, at 5:30pm in Campbell Hall 153. It is hosted by SALAD and the Howland Panel Committee.

Paper Monuments: “The Pythian Temple”


Paper Monuments is a series of opportunities, events, and interventions designed to elevate the voices of the people of New Orleans, as a critical process to creating symbols of our city that represent our collective vision, and to honor the erased histories of the people, places, movements, and events that have made up the past 300 years as we look to the future.

Paper Monuments is a megaphone for New Orleanians to use art and storytelling to answer the question:

What is an appropriate monument to our city today?

The Pythian Temple project was a collaboration between Chris Daemmrich, artist, and Amber Wiley, storyteller. Paper Monuments is the brainchild of Sue Mobley and Bryan C. Lee Jr., founders of Colloqate Design.


National Building Museum: Interview with Amber N. Wiley

Amber N. Wiley, Ph.D., collaborated with the Museum to lend insight into the Pilot District Project (PDP), the subject of the forthcoming exhibition Community Policing in the Nation’s Capital Program: The Pilot District Project, 1968-1973.

NBM Online: After Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, the Pilot District Project was born as a local experiment in police reform and citizen participation in a predominantly African American area of Washington, D.C. Who were some of the key people instrumental to the PDP’s forming?
Amber Wiley: Robert Shellow, a social psychologist who was the head of research for the Kerner Commission, developed the program. He had previous experience researching issues of civil disturbances, as well as working with the Prince George’s County Police Department to aid in developing protocol for policing large-scale events.

Marion Barry, civil rights activist, founder of Pride, Inc., and the Free DC Movement was initially against the program. His antagonism was a result of the fact that the PDP had started police sensitivity training before developing an elected citizens’ board to oversee the project. He created a coalition of local activists to run for the board under the banner of the People’s Party. His party ended up winning the majority of the seats on the PDP citizens’ board.

To read the rest visit: https://www.nbm.org/interview-amber-n-wiley/

Learn more about the Pilot District Project.