American Roundtable

An Architectural League initiative offering on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of small to mid-size American communities.

How can we see with fresh eyes the condition—the successes, failures, and opportunities—of the American landscape? How can we more deeply understand the relationship of individuals and communities to their environments, and the constraining and empowering impacts that the built environment has on daily life, and the trajectories of lives?

These are the questions asked by American Roundtable, an initiative of The Architectural League that brings together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American small to mid-sized communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

Reports—published digitally on archleague.org and in a set of forthcoming printed booklets—along with a robust series of public programs will explore nine communities or regions and consider topics and issues central to their health and vitality. The communities and their editorial teams were selected through an open, national call for proposals in early 2020. They are:

  • Africatown, Alabama
  • Along the Lumbee River, North Carolina
  • Appalachia, West Virginia
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • Cheyenne River Reservation, South Dakota
  • Lower Rio Grande valley region, New Mexico
  • River Valley, Maine
  • South Beach, Washington, and
  • Youngstown-Warren-Lordstown, Ohio.

By providing platforms for individuals, groups, and organizations too often overlooked or ignored in the past, and by asking how design and an understanding of the built environment can empower communities, American Roundtable hopes to find new ways for Americans to imagine a future more dynamic, just, equitable, sustainable, and beautiful.

Support

American Roundtable is supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

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The project is also supported by the J. Clawson Mills Fund of The Architectural League.

Themes

To promote comparison and synthesis across the reports, American Roundtable is organized around five broad themes: Public Space, Health, Work and Economy, Infrastructure, and Environment.

In the weeks to come, as additional reports are published, we invite you to explore these themes and the ways they operate in the built environment of American communities. Check back on January 26, when the next two reports are released and this feature becomes available.

Credits

American Roundtable Steering Committee: Mario Gooden, Paul Lewis, and Lyn Rice
American Roundtable Selection Committee: Nicholas Anderson, David Dowell, Anne Marie Duvall Decker, Rosalie Genevro, Mario Gooden, Paul Lewis, Jonathan Massey, Sue Mobley, Erin Moore, and Jason Schupbach

Project Director: Nicholas Anderson
Executive Director: Rosalie Genevro
Digital Editor and Copyeditor: Sarah Wesseler
Project team: League staff members Nanase Shirokawa and Anne Carlisle and former staff member Katie Rotman

Website design: Jameson Proctor with Nathan Brouillet, Allison Connell, Lorraine Kim, and Britton Walker (Athletics)
Logo and identity design: Britt Cobb and Michael Bierut (Pentagram)
Project typeface: Papanekst by Dinamo
Print publication advisor: Kris Graves (Kris Graves Projects)