Understanding the Past/Documenting the Present/Imagining the Future

An introduction to the League’s American Roundtable project.

January 13, 2021
7:00 p.m.

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

How can we see the successes, failures, and opportunities of the American landscape with fresh eyes? How can we more deeply understand the constraining and empowering impacts the built environment has on daily life, and the trajectories of lives? How, in particular, can we discern how built context functions and shapes lives in the small cities, towns, and rural areas that comprise so much of the American continent, and receive so little of the attention of designers and media?

Following an open, national call for proposals in late 2019, The Architectural League commissioned reports on 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. The reports will be published on archleague.org this winter and spring, beginning January 12.

Please join us for the launch event of this new initiative. Following a brief introduction by Project Director Nicholas Anderson, members of the nine American Roundtable editorial teams—each with a deep relationship to the subject of their report—will discuss how they approached their work. Each team has created a powerful portrait, using the lens of the built environment and drawing on the knowledge and perspectives of collaborators ranging from 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.

A series of individual programs on American Roundtable report communities will begin on January 27.

Learn more about the American Roundtable initiative.