I am Professor at Pratt Institute's School of Architecture, where I teach urban and architectural history and theory, and the editor of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, a group devoted to advancing scholarship in architectural theory and history.
My research examines how architecture, urbanism and landscape design participate in the distribution of resources and how these forms of design help us understand the limits and capacities of our bodies. I've written, taught, and lectured for over twenty years about the intersections of food and agricultural history with architectural history. Other key topics are histories of justice, exclusion and displacement in architecture and urban planning; architectures of consumption and biopolitics; and the intellectual history of francophone and anglophone critical theory. My book-length projects include Black Lives Matter, a collection of essays that put Black lives at the center of architecture and its history, Street Value: Shopping, Planning and Politics at Fulton Mall, with Rosten Woo and Damon Rich, a book about how race and class have shaped development in New York City, and the forthcoming Provisioning: Markets and Urban Transformation in 20thCentury France. My newer projects are about toxics in architecture, and the French architect Nicole Sonolet. (see below)
Here are selected projects organized by topic. I try to remember to post links to talks and new publications on twitter, and my list there may be more up to date. More bio details are below.
TOXICS and ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
After the release of the 2017 IPCC report, and a reckoning with the extent of toxics in everyday construction materials, I decided to direct my research and teaching more explicitly towards repair of environmental injustices, and several projects emerged as a result:
- I'm co-editor of the Toxics project in Aggregate, with Jessica Varner, which examines histories of toxics in architectural materials and landscapes; we have a panel at the 2022 EAHN conference about methods for writing about toxics. I published a short text on this topic in Perspecta, which came out of a two-year research project at Pratt with Laura Diamond, Owen Spangler and Sebastian Lopez.
- I've been involved with ongoing research on toxics, environmental justice, and sea level rise in the Meadowlands, NJ, via the Princeton-Mellon Initiative and the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Regional Plan Association, where I've been fortunate to work with students Sonia Ralston, Jeremy Wolin, and Chris Loofs. This work is on its way to being published.
- I've been collaborating with my former student Emely Balaguera to publish interviews with environmental justice leaders in the NYC area about their priorities in a series called "Follow the Frontline" in Urban Omnibus.
- I've been teaching a design studio, "Rendering the Just Transition," with Jason Lee, about how architects might visualize the consequences of a Green New Deal or other justice-based climate transition policies. Selected projects have been archived as part of the Green New Deal Superstudio, and there is some press coverage of the studio work here and here.
NICOLE SONOLET and PROGRAMMING/CARE/INFRASTRUCTURE in 1970S FRANCE
In 2017 I also began to reexamine a group I'd written about in my graduate research work: CERFI, a multi-disciplinary group of activists and researchers in 1970s France who developed fascinating theories about the links between subjectivity and infrastructure, and who worked between the worlds of activism and the funding structures of the French State. I saw their work as a useful source in conversations about infrastructures for care that might be part of a just transition. In the course of this research I learned about the work of the French architect Nicole Sonolet, who designed housing, hospitals, and villages focused around the provision of care, especially mental health care. Her work is barely documented in architectural history, and her stunning hospitals, clinics and urban plans deserve to be seen by a wider audience
FOOD, AGRICULTURE and URBANISM in 20th CENTURY
My doctoral dissertation, "The Architecture of the Market: Food, Media and Biopolitics from Les Halles to Rungis" was
about the architectures of France's central food markets, and about how markets
became media through which debates about political economy, biopolitics, and
urbanism were articulated. I published book chapters and articles on this from
2007-2015, and I am finishing a book that more deeply explores the
environmental and colonial sides of this history. Here are some related
- "Markets and the Food Landscape in France,
1940-1972" in Food in the City, edited by Dorothee Imbert. Cambridge, MA: Dumbarton Oaks/Harvard University Press, 2015. (archived
- "Feedback Loops. On
Media, Architectures, and the Aesthetics of Organization: Christa Kamleithner, Roland Meyer and Julia Weber in discussion with Reinhold Martin and Meredith TenHoor" in Zeitschrift fur Medienwissenschaft12, March 2015
- "Labor in the Logistical Drawing," in Log
34, 2015. (archived
- "Decree, Design, Exhibit, Consume: Making Modern Markets in France, 1953-79" in Governing by Design: Architecture, Economy, and Politics in the Twentieth Century, eds. Arindam Dutta, Timothy Hyde, Daniel M. Abramson
and the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press,
- "Architecture and Biopolitics at Les Halles" French Politics, Culture and Society,
Vol. 25 Issue 2 (2007). (archived
- (I have many other texts about food, architecture and urbanism that I will post here one day...)
DIALOGUES ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL PASTS and FUTURES
As someone whose work in architecture began through art practice, I often find I want to use my carefully-written histories to imagine new futures, and as a way to do this, I've been writing in fictional dialogues and doing performances about desire, fantasy, and invention that engages architectural history.
- An essay, "Vacuum Suction Conveyance, Part II,
in Aggregate's new book Writing
Architectural History (available on JSTOR if
you have access, feel free to email if not) is about the socialist, feminist, planned
Czech town of Etarea, but also about fiction, projection, and invention in architectural history. I performed a longer version of this at common
room 2 in 2008, and drafted a small book collecting this work and other fantasies about the future and pasts of retail space that I soon hope to publish called Cities Without Commerce.
- I wrote a satiric fictional dialogue about what to do about the lack of funding for academic work in
architectural history for The
Architecture Lobby's Asymmetric Labors project.
- The speculative work in my studio, "Rendering
the Just Transition," described above, falls into this category, and my new book Provisioning also contains dialogues between women written out of the archive of large-scale urban transformation in France during the 1960s.
THE DISCIPLINE of ARCHITECTURE?
My work on the intellectual
history of architecture examines how critical theories have been incorporated and
appropriated in architecture, what political economy and extractive knowledge
has to do with architectural theory, how racialization impacted architectural
history, and argues for a more capacious, critical, and inclusive field. Most
of my work on this topic is done through curricular coordination at Pratt, but
here are some selected related publications and projects:
Lives Matter, a project I co-edited with Jonathan Massey for Aggregate,
gathered activists and academics to call for a discipline more committed to
examining histories of racialization in architectural spaces.
published in History/Theory: a project of
e-flux Architecture/Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zurich, reflects on the state of history and theory in architecture (from 2018). My work on the history of the journal Oppositions, undertaken in Beatriz Colomina's proseminar during my first year of graduate school, informed this research. An
excerpt of this from the Princeton SOA journal Pidgin is here
- To spur conversations about settler colonialism and Indigenous knowledges in architectural history, I collaborated
with Ayala Levin, Ana Maria Leon and Andrew Herscher to organize a discussion, "Decolonizing
Architectural Pasts and Futures" at the Chicago Architectural Biennale in 2019. These conversations have continued in my work with the Indigenous
Knowledges/Decolonial Pedagogies Workshops convened at Pratt by Carlos Motta, and in lectures I organized for the Pratt SOA's Lecture Series in 2019-20 and 20-21.
- In Aggregate, I have co-edited and reviewed
texts for a new project, On
Collaborations: Feminist Architectural Histories of Migration, edited and organized by
Rachel Lee and Anooradha Siddiqi
URBAN TRANSFORMATION in DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN
The 2004 rezoning of Downtown
Brooklyn put longtime Black spaces such as the Fulton Street Pedestrian Mall
under threat, and some of my earliest urban history research work, from 2006-9, focused on this space.
- After contributing to an
in-situ exhibition on the history
of Fulton Mall organized by the Center for Urban Pedagogy, Rosten Woo, Adam Michaels and I developed
a book, Street
Value, which uses oral history, images, and exposition to show how
racial capitalisms shaped the street in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
(This book is out of print, but in JSTOR, email if you don't have access and would like a digital copy.)
- From this
research, David Frisco and I developed an exhibition with our students, Brooklyn
Exchanges, which examined at the past, present and future politics of urban
transformation around Fulton Street, Atlantic Yards and the BAM Cultural
District that was exhibited at the Metropolitan Exchange in Downtown Brooklyn; a
version of this was shown at Kingsborough Community College in 2009.
MORE BIO DETAILS
I received my Ph.D. in Architecture from Princeton
University, and have a B.A in Art-Semiotics from Brown University. From 2016-22
I served on the advisory board of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study
of American Architecture at Columbia University.
In 2018-19 was a Fellow at the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture,
Urbanism and the Humanities at Princeton. From 2007-2011 I organized lectures,
dinners, a library, and a community supported agriculture program at the Metropolitan Exchange
in Downtown Brooklyn. Prior to work in architectural history, I worked for over
ten years as a software developer, studied critical theory in France, and made
videos, paintings and installations about labor, technology and urban transformations. As
a teenager I attended Montgomery
Blair High School, was part of riot grrrl DC, organized protests against clearcutting and
stream pollution, and wrote watershed data analysis software for the U.S.
I like to experiment with media and methods for my work. I do both archival and oral history work, and I sometimes incorporate fiction, speculation, theory-writing, and dialogue into my writing. Many insights come from reading feminist, decolonial, speculative-economic, and other critical theories, as well as from artistic and activist practice, institutional labor and conversation and non-academic activites; I am an avid cook and enjoy playing with drums, bikes, and paint when I have time.
I try to make, lead, and teach in a way that centers curiosity, pleasure, care, experimentation, and interdisciplinary and extra-institutional collaboration, but I tend to fall behind on email, so please contact me again if I have missed yours.
meredith at mtenhoor dot net (but please write to me at my Pratt address for anything related to academic work)
I am on twitter sporadically