Race, Ethnicity, and Architecture in the Nation’s Capital

Thirteenth Biennial Symposium
April 18-19, 2020 at the Catholic University of America

Organized by the Latrobe Chapter, Society of Architectural Historians
Co-Sponsored by the D.C. Preservation League and the Catholic University of America, School of Architecture and Planning

Governments and private developers have employed built environments to control and regulate racialized bodies. Through the systemic planning of residential and commercial districts, public spaces, and transit, they ensured the growth of isolated enclaves whose economic health varied based on inhabitants’ race. Historically-specific understandings of race have likewise shaped the design and construction of the capital’s architecture, for example influencing the development of various building typologies, ranging from embassies and museums to shopping centers. The 13th Latrobe Chapter Biennial Symposium therefore calls for a timely investigation of the symbiotic relationship between race and architecture in the greater Washington, DC region. It conceptualizes race broadly, not as an issue of binaries, but rather of corporeal hierarchies that meaningfully structure the design and experience of architectural and urban spaces.

The Symposium will offer four paper sessions and two field tours exploring the intersections of race, ethnicity, and the built environment, featuring a diverse array of speakers from the National Capital Region and beyond. The complete program and list of speakers, paper topics, and tours is shown below.

(Please note this link is not yet live—registration will open soon!)


Symposium Program


About the Biennial Symposium

Over the past two decades, the Latrobe Chapter has hosted over a dozen biennial symposia, typically with one day of paper sessions and day of related tours centered on a specific theme in the historic development of metropolitan Washington, DC. Past symposia have welcomed scholars from across the country to deliver papers on such diverse themes as John Joseph Earley, Mid-Century Modernism, and Wartime Washington.

For more information on prior symposium themes, click the link below: