Rutgers Daily Targum Black History Month article

Bearden Daily Targum Article

Happy Black History Month! In an engaging conversation with Professor Amber Wiley, a professor in the Department of Art History, we’re looking at how Black people have impacted and continue to impact the ever-evolving art world.

The work of the many artists that Wiley covers in her African-American Art class helps visually express the Black experience in America through a creative lens.

Many of us know of the Harlem Renaissance of arts and culture in the Roaring ’20s. This movement saw the brilliant work of artists like Aaron Douglas, Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage, Palmer Hayden, James Van Der Zee and Archibald Motley emerge into the spotlight.

Today, the contemporary work of trailblazers like Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker and Kehinde Wiley, who famously painted former President Barack Obama’s verdant presidential portrait in 2018 might come into mind…

To read more, visit: Daily Targum.

Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States, 2 ed.

Amber recently had a book chapter, “The Dunbar High School Dilemma: Architecture, Power, and African American Cultural Heritage,” published in the second edition of Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States, edited by Max Page and Randall Mason (London, New York, NY: Routledge, 2019).

Giving Preservation a History

In this volume, some of the leading figures in the field have been brought together to write on the roots of the historic preservation movement in the United States, ranging from New York to Santa Fe, Charleston to Chicago. Giving Preservation a History explores the long history of historic preservation: how preservation movements have taken a leading role in shaping American urban space and development; how historic preservation battles have reflected broader social forces; and what the changing nature of historic preservation means for efforts to preserve national, urban, and local heritage.

The second edition adds several new essays addressing key developing areas in the field by major new voices. The new essays represent the broadening range of scholarship on historic preservation generated since the publication of the first edition, taking better account of the role of cultural diversity and difference within the field while exploring the connections between preservation and allied concerns such as environmental sustainability, LGBTQ and nonwhite identity, and economic development.

Residents of Barry Farm Push for Historic Site Designation

Barry Farm Demolition

In Washington, D.C., a battle is brewing over whether Barry Farm Dwellings, currently in the demolition phase of a redevelopment project, is worthy of local historic landmark designation. Amber gave testimony regarding the integrity of the site on behalf of the nomination, put forward by Prologue DC and the Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association the July 25th Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) hearing. On July 27th she, along with Parisa Norouzi of Empower DC and former Barry Farm resident Sugar Coleman spoke with local NBC correspondent Derrick Ward about the case. Finally, on July 31 Wiley teamed up with Sarah Shoenfeld of Prologue DC to discuss the history of Barry Farm with WeAct Radio host Joseph Young on his talk show “Gentrification or Displacement.”

The battle does not end here.  The D.C. HPRB votes on the matter in September.  In the meantime, former Barry Farm residents will keep rallying their cause.

Barry Farm NBC

Historic Capital: Preservation, Race, and Real Estate in Washington, D.C.

Historic Capital: Preservation, Race, and Real Estate in Washington, D.C. by Cameron Logan

Reviewed by: Amber N. Wiley
Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum
Vol. 26, No. 1 (Spring 2019), pp. 94-96



Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; the creative restoration of Colonial Williamsburg; the demolition of Pennsylvania Station. These are some of the watershed moments in the history of historic preservation in the United States. What Cameron Logan offers in Historic Capital is not an alternative narrative, but a deeper context from which we can continue to interrogate the metanarrative of historic preservation in the United States.

Curiously, the roots of preservation in Washington are quite distinct from the patriotism and urge to construct and secure the stories of the nation’s forefathers underlying Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, in spite of the position of Washington, D.C., in the national imaginary. Instead, Washington preservation is historically grounded in the safeguarding of residential spaces in the city, both against opportunistic speculators in Georgetown and against the encroachment of the monumental core and the federal government into the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Logan provides the reader with case studies of some of Washington’s better-known and established neighborhoods, as well as areas that have recently undergone gentrification, like the U Street Corridor and LeDroit Park, in an effort to not only reveal the long history of historic preservation in Washington, but to integrate that story with arguments about the relationship between real estate, race, and historic preservation.


To read the rest, visit: Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum.

A Right to the City

A Right to the City.” Anacostia Community Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.. Temporary exhibition. April 21, 2018–April 20, 2020. Lisa Sasak, interim museum director; Samir Meghelli, chief curator.


Reviewed by Amber N. Wiley


A Right to the City

These three-foot-tall letters at the entrance to the Anacostia Community Museum spell out a portion of the title of the exhibition “A Right to the City,” on display until April 2020.  Photo by Amber N. Wiley.


Colorful and immersive, the Anacostia Community Museum’s exhibition “A Right to the City” immediately invites the audience inside to explore. The exhibit comes at a critical time for the nation’s capital, which is experiencing exponential growth and major social, ethnic, and economic changes in its population. The exhibition’s audiences will learn about the history of six neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., and the major battles that neighborhood residents fought for equal rights and protection against segregation and displacement from urban development since the mid-twentieth century. The exhibition explains that crucial victories were the result of the collective muscle of many disempowered individuals; their work as a cohesive unit gave them the social and political capital they otherwise lacked.

To read more, visit: Journal of American History, Volume 106, Issue 1, June 2019, Pages 128–131.

The Cultural Value of Everyday Places: A Symposium to Honor Richard Longstreth

Longstreth Symposium

Beacon Light Motel, North Hudson, New York, from Richard Longstreth, A Guide to Architecture in the Adirondacks (Keeseville, NY: Adirondacks Architectural Heritage, 2017).

This symposium took place ahead of the 2019 VAF Conference Landscapes of Succession in Philadelphia. Organized by Cameron Logan and Amber Wiley, former doctoral students of Richard Longstreth, it involved contributions from a group of former students, colleagues, and collaborators whose work engages with, and has been inspired by, Richard Longstreth’s scholarship, teaching and public advocacy. This included people in academia as well as those in cultural resource management. The various panels at the symposium focused on contemporary work by a range of scholars and researchers who have explicitly drawn on his lessons or otherwise engaged with the kinds of theoretical and methodological approaches that Longstreth has championed. Given the overwhelmingly historical focus of his work this symposium naturally looked to the past. But it equally focused on what is being done about the past in the present and grappled with future directions in how we understand the past and its legacy in the built environment.


The Cultural Value of Everyday Places

28th & 29th May, 2019

Session 1 – Housing

Vyta Baselice, Operation Breakthrough: US Federal Housing and Architectural Logistics, 1969-1973

Matthew Lasner, FSA, Telesis, and the Politics of New Housing Types in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1935-1965

Katie Marages Schank, Open For Inspection: How the Atlanta Housing Authority Used Consumer Culture to Sell Public Housing

Zachary J. Violette, Taste, History, Style, Ornament: Some Problems and Approaches to the Analysis of Aesthetic Choice in Working-Class Housing

Respondent: Carla Yanni

Session 2 – Landscapes of Accumulation and Abandonment

Elihu Rubin, Ghost Town: Snapshots of a Cultural Landscape

Helen Tangires, Shelter for the Middleman: Food Wholesaling in the Twentieth-Century City

Respondent: Dell Upton

Session 3 – The Digital Turn?

Lisa Davidson, Assessing the Buildings of the United States Series in 21st Century Architectural History Scholarship

Gabrielle Esperdy, Highway Historiography at the Crossroads: Richard Longstreth, Ed Ruscha and The Streets of Los Angeles

Respondent: Jeffrey Cohen

Keynote Lecture

Alison K. Hoagland, Air Apparent: An Environmental History of the Washington, DC Rowhouse Plan

Session 4 – The Suburbs

Anna Andrzejewski, Looking beyond the Icons: The “Doctors Park” in American Suburbs

Gretchen Buggeln, What People Taught Me about their Church Buildings: An Architectural Historian’s Experiments in Ethnography

Mary Corbin Sies and Isabelle Gournay, Baby Boom Modernism and the Quest for Community in D.C.’s Maryland Suburbs, 1947-1972

James A. Jacobs, The Stubborn Ambivalence about the Twentieth Century Suburban Vernacular

Respondent: Robert Bruegmann

Session 5 – Preservation

Daniel Bluestone and Aaron Wunsch, Preservation’s Integrity Trap

Eve Errickson, Hearth Bias: Interpreting Impermanent Architecture

James Buckley, “I [Still] Can’t See It; I [Still] Don’t Understand It; and It [Still] Doesn’t Look Old to Me”: Taking the Longstrethian View of Historic Preservation’s Future

Amber Stimpson, From Barbershops to Boarding Houses: African American Travel from 1936-1966, and the Cultural Relevance of Green Books’ “Oasis Spaces” in North Carolina

Respondent: Catherine Bishir

Just Beneath the Surface

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 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:

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:

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.