About


Gabrielle Esperdy is an architectural and urban historian and cultural critic. She is Associate Professor of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she has taught since 2001.

Her work examines the intersections of architecture, consumerism, and modernism in the metropolitan landscape, especially in the United States in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She is particularly interested in minor or everyday buildings and in the ways that social, economic, and political issues shape the built environment, both historically and today.

Gabrielle’s research also looks at the architecture profession as it is shaped by social and cultural concerns, including gender, ethnicity, and class. She is increasingly engaged with the production of digital scholarship and with considerations of the historical project in the age of big data.

Her first book, Modernizing Main Street: Architecture and Consumer Culture in the New Deal, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2008. Her second book, American Autopia (forthcoming, University of Virginia Press, October 2019) studies how the car influenced architectural and urban discourse in the United States, looking at the ways that architects, planners, geographers, theorists and social critics responded to sprawling roadsides and the territories of the automobile that emerged at midcentury. 

American Road Trip is an ongoing project to explore and critically analyze historical, monumental, off-beat, ordinary, non-heroic buildings and places that are part of the cultural bedrock of the United States, for better or worse. American Road Trip is also an opportunity for testing ideas about the built environment and its scholarship.

Gabrielle’s articles have appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Perspecta, History of PhotographyJournal of International Women’s StudiesArchitectural Design, Buildings & Landscapes, Design Observer, and Urban Omnibus, among others. She is a columnist for Places, a journal dedicated to public scholarship on architecture, landscape, and urbanism.

She is Editor of SAH Archipedia, a dynamic, authoritative  encyclopedia of the history of the built environment that launched in fall 2012 and will relaunch as an open-access site in summer 2019. SAH Archipedia is published by the Society of Architectural Historians and the University of Virginia Press. This partnership also produces the Buildings of the United States multi-volume series, for which Esperdy serves as Associate Editor. In addition to editing SAH Archipedia, Esperdy is also a contributor, and is currently completing work on micro-histories of 100 significant and representative New Jersey buildings and sites.

A former Associate Editor of the Journal of Architectural Education and  past member of the JAE Editorial Board, Esperdy is currently a board member of DesignInquiry, a non-profit think tank and design collective dedicated to flat hierarchy, collaborative production, and interdisciplinary research.

Her own research has been supported by the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. She was educated at Smith College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She lives in Manhattan and Asbury Park with a wife, a dog and a Mini Cooper.

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