Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

Conference Keynote
Michael Allen

Conference Keynote
Michael Allen

The CELA welcomes Michael Allen to the 2024 Annual CELA Conference as the Day 3 Keynote Speaker.

 

Michael R. Allen works as an academic researcher, historian, teacher, design critic, public artist, critical spatial tour guide, and heritage conservationist in private practice. The binding ties in his research are investigation of the ideological and political constitution of architectural and infrastructural space, study of the claiming of material heritage and the politics of its conservation, and inquiry into the forms of liberatory agency that realize the potential of the modern metropolis to distribute wealth, knowledge, and shelter.

Since 2022, Allen has served as Executive Director of the National Building Arts Center, an emerging museum of the American built environment rooted in the largest collection of architectural artifacts in the U.S. as well as a comprehensive research library on the U.S. built environment. Since 2009, Allen has been Director of the Preservation Research Office, a consultancy that has worked across ten US states on projects of all scales.

In 2018, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Allen to its “40 Under 40” list honoring young preservationists whose work is expanding the concept and practice of historic preservation in the U.S. Since November 2021, he has been an appointed member of the Preservation Board of the City of St. Louis. Allen is a member of the Advisor Leadership Team for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In academia, Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, as well as a Lecturer in American Culture Studies (AMCS), at Washington University in St. Louis. Allen’s scholarly and critical articles have appeared in a wide range of scholarly and popular sources, such as Buildings and Landscapes, CityLab, Disegno, Forty-Five Journal, Hyperallergic, Next City, Platform, Temporary Art Review, St. Louis American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.  He has contributed chapters to Bending the Future: 50 Ideas About the Next 50 Years of Historic Preservation, Midwest Architecture Journeys, and Buildings of Missouri. Allen also has a past in experimental literary publishing, radical community theater, and public ecological education. At WashU, Allen also has a past in experimental literary publishing, radical community theater and public ecological education. Allen has been the primary instructor at the Sumner StudioLab based at Sumner High School, the oldest historically Black high school west of the Mississippi River.

Allen is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Heritage at the Ironbridge Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham, England, with degree expected in 2024. His Ph.D. dissertation examines relationships between post–World War II mass housing programs in the U.S. and socialist Europe.  He holds a B.A. in Literature and History from The Union Institute.