Program Leadership

Amber Wiley specializes in architecture, urbanism, and African American cultural studies. Her research interests are centered 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 teaching approach mirrors her dedication to critical thinking about the human condition in the built environment, and the creation, evolution, and maintenance of cities, neighborhoods, and communities. She strives to actively engage in discourses that are significant across academic fields. Her theoretical and analytic background was founded in art and architectural history methodology, as well as the interdisciplinary methods of American Studies. She combines analysis of aesthetics and socio-cultural influences on community building with questions about the meaning of culture, authority, and agency.

Professor Wiley was named a 2016 Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine and was awarded the inaugural H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship from the Society of Architectural Historians. She traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Ghana, Ethiopia, India, and Vietnam during the 2014-2015 academic year.  She is active in preservation policy as well as various professional organizations.  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.

Current Interests & Research

Brutalist architecture and its legacy

Intersections between social justice and design

Historiography of African Americans in architecture, city planning, landscape, historic preservation

New approaches to public history and cultural heritage

Undergraduate Classes

African-American Art

Nineteenth Century Architecture and Society in the United States

Investigating and Documenting Hidden Landscapes of Slavery (Honors seminar)

Graduate Classes

Washington: Symbol and City


Concrete Solutions: Brutalism and Black Power in the Nation’s Capital (Manuscript in Progress)

Chapters and Edited Volumes

“Revisiting the Dunbar High School Dilemma,” Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States, 2 ed. Edited by Max Page and Randall Mason (London, New York, NY: Routledge, forthcoming)

“Firmitas, Utilitas, Profectus: The Architecture of Exploitation in Ghana,” Architectural Guide: Sub-Saharan Africa. Edited by Philipp Meuser, Adil Dalbai and Ingrid Stegmann (Berlin: DOM publishers, forthcoming)

“A Model School for a Model City: Shaw Junior High School as a Monument to Planning Reform,” Designing Schools: Space, Place and Pedagogy. Edited by Julie Willis and Kate Darian-Smith (London, New York, NY: Routledge, 2017): 158-174

“A Modern-Day WPA,” Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United StatesEdited by Max Page and Marla R. Miller (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016): 261-264

“Geography, Planning, and Performing Mobility in New Orleans,” Walking in Cities: Quotidian Mobility as Urban Theory, Method, and Practice. Edited by Timothy Shortell and Evrick Brown (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016): 177-196

Journal Article

The Dunbar High School Dilemma: Architecture, Power, and African American Cultural Heritage,” Buildings & Landscapes 20 no. 1 (Spring 2013): 95-128 [Recipient of the 2014 Bishir Prize from the Vernacular Architecture Forum]


Carlos Manuel Rosario,” Washington History 30 no. 1 (Spring 2018): 48-49

“Amber N. Wiley on Teaching with the Tang Collection,” Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at the Tang Teaching Museum. Edited by Ian Berry and Rebecca McNamara (Saratoga Springs, NY: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, 2017): 8-9

“Carrie Mae Weems, When and Where I Enter the British Museum,” Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at the Tang Teaching Museum. Edited by Ian Berry and Rebecca McNamara (Saratoga Springs, NY: Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, 2017): 10-13

An American in Saigon,” Architect Magazine (June 8, 2015)

Notes From the Golden Triangle,” Architect Magazine (April 10, 2015)

Schools and Prisons,” The Aggregate website 2 (March 2015)


The Roots of Urban Renaissance: Gentrification and the Struggle over Harlem, Journal of Architectural Education (January 16, 2018) 

Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 76 no. 2 (June 2017): 252-254 

Designing the Creative Child: Playthings and Places in Midcentury America, Journal of Design History 27 no. 3 (September 2014): 314-316 

Integrating Architecture into Digital and Public Humanities: Sites and Sounds + MediaNOLA,” Journal of Digital Humanities 2 no. 2 (Spring 2013) 

Washington's U Street: A Biography. H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. (September 2011) 

Group Exhibitions (For Photography)

2015 “Wanderlust: Nomadic Interpretations of Contemporary Africa,” The Project Box, Oklahoma City, OK (Curator: Ebony Iman Dallas, Founder of Afrikanation Artists Organization)

2013 “Louisiana Contemporary,” Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA (Juror: Franklin Sirmans, Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL)

2012 “Louisiana Contemporary,” Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA (Juror: Rene Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs of the McNay Art Museum of San Antonio, TX)

2012 “Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Semifinal,” L’Entrepôt Gallery, New Orleans, LA