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Black Architectures: Race, Pedagogy, and Practice, 1957–68

  • Author(s): Choi, Rebecca Meejoo
  • Advisor(s): Lavin, Sylvia
  • Cuff, Dana
  • et al.
Abstract

Between 1964 and 1968, protests against anti-Black racism and police violence transformed cities across the United States. Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the emergent Black Power movement, these so-called “race riots” elicited a diverse groundswell of political responses from architects, city officials, universities and activists alike. On the one hand, this racial unrest sowed the seeds for discriminatory “law and order” measures that increased policing in Black neighborhoods while pathologizing and criminalizing Black neighborhoods. On the other hand, the “riots” encouraged a generation of thinkers, designers, and activists to critique and resist a white-led architecture and design world. This dissertation brushes against the archival grain and the existing scholarship by centering the Black architectural imagination that was very much present, but often underestimated, in this time period. I examine architects and architects-in-training, writers, and cultural producers who imagined Black futurities and created alternative life-worlds within, against, and in spite of the bastions of white elitism in architecture. At the same time, this dissertation reads the interrelationships between architecture, universities, city governance, and racial uprisings to narrate a new architectural history that takes seriously the role that race and racism played in shaping architectural pedagogies in the 1960s. Three case studies form the basis of this investigation: (1) the Civic Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; (2) the Yale School of Art and Architecture in New Haven, Connecticut; and (3) an institutional collaboration between Columbia University and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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