The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) has named Gabrielle Esperdy, Professor in the Hillier College of Architecture and Design, to the role of editor in chief for the Buildings of the United States (BUS) book series and SAH Archipedia. BUS was inspired by the famous Pevsner Guides to Buildings of England. Originally published by Oxford University Press, the first BUS books appeared in the early 1990s. Today, volumes of the award-winning series are published by the University of Virginia Press. “Sponsored by SAH and Virginia, SAH Archipedia went live in 2012. Both projects are part of a large-scale research and publication program — embracing all 50 states and the District of Columbia — that was conceived a half century earlier. That’s a long gestation, even by academic standards; in this case it’s had positive consequences, allowing methodology and technology to catch up with the project’s scholarly ambitions,” said Esperdy.
The content of SAH Archipedia includes building histories and thematic essays from all of the published BUS print volumes as well as specially-commissioned born-digital scholarship. Esperdy, who is SAH Archipedia’s founding editor, is now also filling the role that was held by her predecessor Karen Kingsley, who led the BUS series for 15 years. While the appointment is notable, even more exciting is that the BUS books series and SAH Archipedia are now fully merged, and stand to become an exemplar for the digital humanities as well as a comprehensive documentation of architecture nationally.
“When I started teaching at a tech school I became more interested in the implications of technology on historical practice. When BUS moved to the University of Virginia Press in the early aughts we knew the series could become the vanguard of what was emerging as digital architectural history. Virginia was at the forefront of digital publications and had invested a lot of money to digitize things like the Founding Fathers series. Now, with SAH Archipedia and BUS fully merged, we have the potential to become a robust digital humanities project in addition to being a digital publication. It is a watershed moment,” said Esperdy.
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Gabrielle Esperdy joined SAH in 1992. She has been active on a number of SAH Committees including the SAH Mellon Author Awards, BUS Editorial Advisory Committee, Classic Buildings NJ, SAH Digital Task Force, and the Founders Award Committee. She served as a speaker at the 2019 Annual Conference in Providence, RI.