Amber N. Wiley is the inaugural Matt and Erika Nord Director of the Center for the Preservation of Civil Rights Sites (CPCRS) and Presidential Associate Professor in Historic Preservation at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. Her research interests center on the social aspects of design and how it affects urban communities – architecture as a literal and figural structure of power. She focuses on the ways local and national bodies have made the claim for the dominating narrative and collective memory of cities and examines how preservation and public history contribute to the creation and maintenance of the identity and sense of place of a city. Her publications cover African American and African diasporic cultural heritage, urbanism in New Orleans, school design, urban renewal, and preservation. Her current book project is entitled Model Schools in the Model City: Race, Planning, and Education in the Nation’s Capital.
She is a co-founding member of the DC Legacy Project: Barry Farm-Hillsdale steering committee, which seeks to ensure the permanent preservation of five landmarked buildings at Barry Farm Dwellings and their use as a public community space in Washington, DC. She has completed interpretation, research, and visioning for the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the DC History Center, National Building Museum, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Monument Lab, and the Society of Architectural Historians. Wiley curated an exhibition with students entitled Collective Yearning: Black Women Artists from the Zimmerli Art Museum, at the Mary H. Dana Women Artist Series and Zimmerli Art Museum, which was the first time Rutgers University had conducted a comprehensive and methodical review of its holdings of art by Black women artists.
Wiley’s activism and scholarship have been honored by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, the DC Preservation League, and the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Her work has been supported by the American Educational Research Association, Artstor, Dumbarton Oaks, the Mellon Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the SRI Foundation. She has served on the National Park System Advisory Board Landmarks Committee, and on the boards of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Yale Black Alumni Association.
She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University. Wiley also holds a Master’s in Architectural History and Certificate in Historic Preservation from the University of Virginia School of Architecture, and a B.A. in Architecture from Yale University. She is an Oklahoma City native with roots in Oklahoma, Washington, DC, Arkansas, and North Carolina.