Charles L. Davis II: University at Buffalo School of Architecture Commencement Speaker

by Rachel Teaman | May 23, 2022

Charles Davis II, UB associate professor of architectural history known worldwide for his work on race in architecture, will address members of the Class of 2022 at the School of Architecture and Planning’s 50th commencement on May 20.

In this moment of a new racial reckoning for our country — and now in our own city after Saturday’s horrific mass shooting in Buffalo — Davis reveals just how far racism extends in the history and contemporary culture of our disciplines and across our communities.

Specifically, through teaching and research, Davis works to critique whiteness in the disciplinary norms of architecture and to make visible Blackness and the historical contributions of people of color across modern architecture. Ultimately, the work has revealed that racial thinking, and racism, is deeply woven into the narratives, policies and practices of our built environment.

Davis will be honored at commencement with the 2022 Dean’s Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the School of Architecture and Planning, in recognition of his exemplary contributions to the study and practice of the disciplines and to the betterment of our world.

Among Davis’ most notable works is “Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present” (Pittsburgh University Press, 2020), which traces the historical influence of race thinking in modern architectural discourses. Co-edited by Davis with fellow historians Irene Cheng and Mabel Wilson, the book is widely acclaimed for provoking a new racial discourse in architectural education.

Read full article here

Charles L. Davis II joined SAH in 2009. He served on the SAH Board from 2019 to 2022, and has been a member of the SAH IDEAS Committee and the HABS-SAH Sally Kress Tompkins Fellowship Committee. He was a speaker at the 2015 Annual International Conference. He currently serves as a Co-chair of the SAH Race and Architectural History Affiliate Group.  

Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.

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