Tulane Home Tulane Shield logo linking to site home page


Continue to check the TuSA COVID-19 FAQ page, and the Tulane Return to Campus website for updates.

Visiting Assistant Professor Amber Wiley was awarded the 2014 Bishir Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum

Visiting Assistant Professor Amber Wiley was awarded the 2014 Bishir Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum for her article “The Dunbar High School Dilemma:  Architecture, Power, and African-American Cultural Heritage” published in Buildings & Landscapes 20 no. 1 (Spring 2013).

The Bishir Prize, named for longtime member and influential scholar Catherine W. Bishir, is awarded annually to the scholarly article from a juried North American publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes. In judging the nominated articles, the jurors look for an article that is based on primary research, that breaks new ground in interpretation or methodology, and that contributes generally to the intellectual vitality of vernacular studies.

The committee selected her article from a competitive pool of first-rate articles due to the ways that the research contextualized material and architectural history in broader urban and African-American history, as well as its insightful and complex treatment of preservation issues.

The article brought the story of Dunbar High School to life for future scholars and students who are interested in how buildings and landscapes shape experience, are expressions of power, and sit at the intersection of racial understandings of self, community, and nation.  Wiley will be formally recognized at the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s Annual Conference in May 2014.

Amber N. Wiley is awarded the prestigious H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship for one year of worldwide travel to visit architectural and cultural sites throughout the Americas, Africa and Asia.


by SAH News | Dec 01, 2013

Amber N. Wiley, visiting professor at Tulane School of Architecture, has been selected as the inaugural recipient of the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship from the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH). The prestigious fellowship awards $50,000 to a recent graduate or emerging scholar for one year of travel to experience architecture and landscapes firsthand.

Wiley has taught architecture, urbanism and preservation courses at Tulane since 2011. Her research interests are centered on the social aspects of design and how architecture affects urban communities as a literal and figural structure of power. While teaching traditional architectural history classes, Wiley and her students also have experimented with integrating architecture into digital and public humanities. Wiley holds a B.A. in architecture from Yale University, an M.A. in architectural history from University of Virginia’s School of Architecture, and a Ph.D. in American studies from George Washington University.

“Amber Wiley is the perfect inaugural H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow. She is teaching world architecture to her students at Tulane but has admitted that she has never actually visited many of the buildings in her lectures,” said SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga. “Amber is exactly the type of professional who Allen Brooks hoped his fellowship would help—a bright and promising architectural historian who will benefit from seeing and experiencing the buildings, landscapes and cityscapes that she will be teaching about for the rest of her career. Allen saw the fellowship as an opportunity for learning, reflection and professional and personal growth.”

Wiley plans to use the fellowship to travel to countries located in the Americas, Africa and Asia that have complicated histories and are influenced by indigenous cultural practices, colonialism, war, shifts in political economy, stark inequities and heritage tourism.

“I am dedicated to teaching and bringing lesser-known histories of design and culture to my students, who will go out into the world with the lessons they have learned and address issues of society through design in informed and empathetic ways,” said Wiley.

Her 12-month voyage will include sites throughout Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. Touring these countries will give Wiley firsthand knowledge of the sites she teaches about and the chance to study preservation practices on the international level.

“This opportunity is pivotal and life-changing, and I feel honored and blessed to receive this award that carries forward the legacy of the esteemed H. Allen Brooks,” said Wiley. “This award isn't just for me—it's for my future students who will reap the benefits of what I will learn along this journey, and I believe that is exactly what Dr. Brooks intended.”

The H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship was established in 2010 by a bequest from noted scholar and architectural historian H. Allen Brooks, who wished to afford others the opportunity to learn through travel as he had. The fellowship is not for the purpose of doing research for an advanced academic degree, but rather to acquire knowledge through experiential, contemplative study that will contribute to future scholarship and to society. Brooks was an active member and past president of SAH and is best known for his groundbreaking 1972 book, The Prairie School: Frank Lloyd Wright and His Midwest Contemporaries.

SAH awards more than 40 fellowships and grants each year. For more information on the H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship and other opportunities, visit www.sah.org/fellowships-and-grants. Follow Wiley’s year-long journey through photos and journal entries posted to the SAH website and blog.

About SAH
The Society of Architectural Historians promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by vocation or avocation, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH is headquartered in Chicago’s historic Charnley-Persky House, one of the few extant residences designed with the combined talents of Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. The Society publishes its quarterly print and online Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH) and the Buildings of the United States book series, organizes study tours and hosts the SAH Annual Conference, which will be held in Austin, Texas, in 2014. SAH’s other digital resources include SAH Archipedia, a media-rich online encyclopedia of American architecture, and SAHARA, a shared online image archive for teaching and research. To learn more about SAH or to become a member, visit sah.org.

Amber Wiley Asked To Be The Society of Architectural Historians Spokesperson For Upcoming Membership Drive

Adjunct Faculty member Amber Wiley has been asked by the Society of Architectural Historians to be a spokesperson for their Fall 2013 graduate student membership drive. Her activities with the SAH while a graduate student member included being awarded a fellowship for the Louis Kahn Study Tour in 2008, participating in the Graduate Student Lightning Talks at the annual conference, and writing an entry for their blog entitled "Innovation and Institutional Memory at Dunbar High School." She also served on the board of the Latrobe Chapter of SAH, acting as their website administrator for 3 years www.latrobechaptersah.org.

Coincidentally, an article Amber has recently written for the Journal of Digital Humanities that discusses student work at Tulane in her "Sites and Sounds: Public History" course has been featured on the SAH front page.

"The Journal of Digital Humanities," Highlights student work from Amber Wiley's Sites + Sounds: Public History course

The review describes how students of Amber Wiley's Sites + Sounds:  Public History course taught Fall 2012 contributed their original, scholarly research to help the New Orleans community preserve its place-based and musical cultural heritage.  The Journal of Digital Humanities is a comprehensive, peer-reviewed, open access journal that features the best scholarship, tools, and conversations produced by the digital humanities community in the previous semester.  The journal is produced by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.

Download Full Article.

Sites and Sounds' explores future of 4 music-linked locations

New Wave staff:

A discussion of four sites linked to New Orleans’ music culture and history — interspersed with musical performances — will take place on Sept. 21 at a public event called “Sites and Sounds at the Old U.S. Mint.” The presentation is organized by Amber Wiley of the Tulane School of Architecture and is an outgrowth of a class Wiley taught last fall.

The afternoon of music, light refreshments and conversation in the French Quarter will focus on the history and potential future of:

• A. L. Davis Park, a celebration site for Mardi Gras Indian tribes and brass band parades
• Dew Drop Inn, an important venue for African American live music from the 1940s–1970s
• The Magnolia Projects public housing, birthplace of several hip hop artists 
• Brown Sugar Records, a store that reflects a time when music was locally promoted and distributed.

The event will feature R&B legend Deacon John Moore; The Paulin Brothers Brass Band; Littdell S. Banister, Big Queen of the Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians; Jamahl Washington, former owner and manager of Brown Sugar Records; and Bruce Barnes of the National Park Service, as well as Wylie.

The seminar that was taught by Wiley at Tulane highlighted the intersections of the built environment, cultural geography and music to create public history projects that were included onMediaNOLA.org, a project of the Tulane Communication Department. 

The coursework applied research methodologies to gain an understanding of New Orleans neighborhoods as rendered by the production, consumption and communities of local music artists, says Wiley, a visiting assistant professor. “This research revealed narratives of hierarchical power, places of struggle, claims to territory, visibility (or lack thereof) and a sense of place.”

The free event from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. at 400 Esplanade Ave. is supported by Tulane City Center, the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and the New Orleans Jazz National Heritage Park

Professor Amber Wiley published article in Buildings & Landscapes, the Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum

Professor Wiley recently had a peer-reviewed journal article published in Buildings & Landscapes, the Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum. Volume 20, Number 1, Spring 2013, pp. 95-128. The article, entitled “The Dunbar High School Dilemma: Architecture, Power, and African American Cultural Heritage,” focuses on the debate around the proposed demolition of a 1916 building that housed the institutional successor of the first public high school for blacks in the nation.

Buildings & Landscapes examines the built world—houses and cities, farmsteads and alleys—churches and courthouses, subdivisions and shopping malls—that make up the spaces that most people experience every day. Strongly based on fieldwork and archival work that views buildings as windows into human life and culture, articles are written by historians, preservationists, architects, cultural and urban geographers, cultural anthropologists, and others whose work involves the documentation, analysis and interpretation of the built world.


Amber Wiley and Marianne Desmarais to Exhibit at the Louisiana Contemporary

Tulane School of Architecture faculty members Amber Wiley and Marianne Desmarais will be included in “Louisiana Contemporary” exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.

“Louisiana Contemporary,” is a juried statewide art exhibition established in 2012.  This annual juried event promotes contemporary art practices in the state of Louisiana and provides exhibition space for the exposition of art by artists residing in the state of Louisiana.

This year almost 280 artists submitted over 970 works of art to consider for the “Louisiana Contemporary” exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. After much deliberation 114 works were chosen by the juror Franklin Sirmans, Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The exhibition opens on Whitney White Linen Night, Sat. Aug. 3, 6-9 p.m. at the Ogden Museum. The show runs August 3 - September 22, 2013.



Tulane City Center project highlighted in the American Scholar

The Tulane City Center public event "Sites and Sounds at the US Mint" to take place on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 was highlighted in the American Scholar, a publication of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. The event will cover the history of four sites in Central City - the Dew Drop Inn, A. L. Davis Park, Magnolia Projects, and Brown Sugar Records, and will include academics, musicians, and musical performances.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Amber N. Wiley, Ph.D., wins ARTstor Travel Award

Visiting Assistant Professor, Amber N. Wiley, Ph.D., is one of five ARTstor Travel Award Winner for her work on "Washington’s Secret City: Cultural Capital.


Historian Constance Green characterized Washington, D.C. in the early 1900s as the “undisputed center of American Negro civilization” in her 1969 book Secret City: History of Race Relations in the Nation’s Capital. This was America before the Harlem Renaissance, in which the average percentile of the capital’s black population ranged from 25-33% throughout the nineteenth century. This population peaked between 1960 and 1990. This black Washington spans from the antebellum period through abolitionism, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, Black Power, Parliament’s “Chocolate City,” and the so-called “post-racial” Obama era.

Accordingly, the African American contribution to the nation’s capital has been significant since its founding in 1790. My image group highlights the cultural capital in this city that tells the story of African Americans in Washington. This history is understudied, and therefore misinterpreted and devalued. The images in the collection represent the three aspects of cultural capital as described by Pierre Bourdieu – the embodied, objectified, and institutionalized states. They also represent the conscious and unconscious processes of acquiring cultural capital – the quotidian aspects of life, like going to a game at Griffith Stadium, or children playing in a water fountain, in addition to the mindful creation of national symbols through design of the Mall, and incorporating Civil Rights and Black Power figures into a narrative of American blackness and a collective struggle.

The chronology of the group is expansive and inclusive of a substantial accumulation of histories about Washington. The earliest image in the collection is the frontispiece for Benjamin Banneker’s Almanac, dated 1795. Banneker was a free black who surveyed land for the laying out of the federal capitol. The most recent image in the collection is a mural created in 2009 in Silver Spring, Maryland by artist Joel Bergner entitled “The Global Refugee Mural,” that depicts refugees living in the metropolitan area and highlights the international nature of the region.

There are also significant themes that appear in the collection, from extreme poverty in the city’s alley dwellings in the shadow of the capitol building to the privileged lineages of black aristocracy. These include haunting images by Lewis Hine and Gordon Parks, as well as carefully composed, self-conscious representations of class attainment produced in the studio of local photographer Addison Scurlock.

Unknown | Howard University students picket the National Crime Conference; Dec-1934 |Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States (Library of Congress)
The collection highlights the growth of institutions centered on the National Mall depicting a national narrative – the Smithsonian and the Federal Triangle as indicative of growth and expansion of federal government and the city shaping a national identity. This runs concurrent with the history of blacks in the city and founding of black institutions to support the “Secret City,” including Freedman’s Hospital, Dunbar High School, Howard University, and Pride Inc.

The images in this group introduce the viewer to the cultural capital of Washington’s secret city – one that is rife with both local and national struggle, reflective of what it means to be black in America, occupying various realms of the public sphere – enshrined in delicate layers of visibility, invisibility, and autonomy.


Model Cities / Model Schools

Visiting Assistant Professor Amber Wiley was invited to present a paper entitled "Model Cities/Model Schools: Educational Facilities as Monuments to Planning Reform" at the symposium School is Another Place: The Making and Meaning of the School Environment in the Twentieth Century at King's College, London. The Menzies Centre for Australian Studies and the University of Melbourne sponsored the symposium. The international, interdisciplinary symposium explored the history of school design and addressed spatial reforms and innovations in twentieth century school from around the world including Latin America, North America, Western Europe and Scandinavia as well as the Eastern bloc and in colonial and postcolonial settings in Asia and Africa.