Understanding the Past/Documenting the Present/Imagining the Future

An introduction to the League’s American Roundtable project.

January 13, 2021

Recorded on January 13, 2021.

American Roundtable is an Architectural League initiative, bringing together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

At the project’s center are nine commissioned reports. Each report is a powerful portrait of a community, using the lens of the built environment and drawing on the knowledge and perspectives of report editors and collaborators ranging from designers to hydrologists to poets. Individually and collectively, the reports compel important questions: about power, justice, neglect, imagination, and agency. And they make vivid the vastness and variety of the American landscape, and the ineffable, enduring, profound importance of place.

The communities explored in American Roundtable are: Africatown, Alabama; Along the Lumbee River, North Carolina; Appalachia, West Virginia; Brownsville, Texas; Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota; Lower Rio Grande, New Mexico; River Valley, Maine; South Beach, Washington; and Youngstown-Warren-Lordstown, Ohio.

This introductory program and panel discussion, captured in the video above, assembled the editors of the nine American Roundtable reports to discuss the question: how does one go about understanding a place? 

Learn more about the American Roundtable initiative.


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