The 2020 Eleanore Pettersen Remote Lecture | Mabel O. Wilson

Wednesday, April 29, 2020, 6:30 - 8:30pm

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Image Credit: Debbie Elliot / NPR

Image Credit: Debbie Elliot / NPR

Press play to begin. Mabel O. Wilson's lecture will be followed by a public Zoom discussion starting at 7:15PM. Please register in advance here. Zoom account registration is required.  

Mabel O. Wilson's free, public online lecture entitled, "Bulletproofing America's Public Space: Race, Remembrance, and Emmett Till" will be introduced and moderated by Dean Nader Tehrani.

Compelling architectural and urban designs like the recent Memorial to Peace and Justice by MASS Design Group have been erected to aid the public in remembering the historic and geographic scope of America’s legacy of racial violence. As architects, planners, urbanists, and historians how do we commemorate America’s fraught history when recent protests by the white nationalist group Unite the Right at historic sites like the University of Virginia, or the need to bulletproof a historical marker at an important site of the Civil Rights struggle tells us that violence still simmers and erupts in the nation's public spaces? 

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor in Architecture and also a professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies at Columbia University. She also serves as the Associate Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies and co-directs Global Africa Lab. She has authored Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2017) and Negro Building: African Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (2012). She co-edited with Irene Cheng and Charles Davis the recently published volume Race and Modern Architecture: From the Enlightenment to Today (2020). With her practice Studio &, she is a collaborator in the architectural team that recently completed the Memorial to Enslaved African American Laborers at the University of Virginia. For MoMA, she is co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition Reconstructions: Blackness and Architecture in America. She’s a founding member of Who Builds Your Architecture? (WBYA?) a collective that advocates for fair labor practices on building sites worldwide.

The Eleanore Pettersen Lecture Series

The Eleanore Pettersen Lecture, established through a generous gift to The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, is dedicated to the voices of women in architecture as a lasting tribute to Ms. Pettersen's significant impact in the world of architecture and her love of The Cooper Union. Pettersen, who had worked as an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright and would later design the post-White House home of Richard M. Nixon, was one of the first women to be licensed as an architect in New Jersey, and developed a successful practice there that spanned over fifty years.

Lectures in this series have been given by Toshiko Mori (2005), Phyllis Lambert (2006), Elizabeth Wright Ingraham (2008), Billie Tsien (2009), Francine Houben (2011), Sarah Wigglesworth (2013), and Farshid Moussavi (2014).

This online program has been approved to offer 1.5 New York State and AIA CEUs. Registered viewers who join the Zoom airing of the program at 6:30PM EST and remain for its entirety are eligible to receive credit. After the program, please email with your full name and AIA number so we can report your credits.

This event is co-presented by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture and The Architectural League of New York. 

The remote lecture and discussion is free and open to the public.

View the full Spring 2020 Lectures and Events List.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.