SAH Announces Editorial Appointments for Buildings of the United States and SAH Archipedia

by SAH News | Feb 24, 2021
The Society of Architectural Historians is pleased to name Gabrielle Esperdy as editor-in-chief and Catherine Boland Erkkila as managing editor of SAH’s award-winning Buildings of the United States (BUS) book series and SAH Archipedia, our open-access encyclopedia of the built environment in the U.S.

Esperdy and Boland-Erkkila
Gabrielle Esperdy and Catherine Boland Erkkila

Esperdy will assume Karen Kingsley’s editor-in-chief role while Boland Erkkila will assume Kingsley’s managing editor role. Kingsley served in the dual roles of editor-in-chief and managing editor of BUS from 2006 until her phased retirement in late 2020. In 2005 Esperdy joined the BUS Editorial Advisory Committee as assistant editor and became associate editor in 2008. In 2010, Esperdy was appointed editor with oversight of SAH Archipedia. When SAH was awarded an NEH grant in 2014, Boland Erkkila was hired as the project editor to manage adding content from all 50 states to SAH Archipedia. In their new roles, Esperdy’s and Boland Erkkila’s purview will focus on both BUS and SAH Archipedia.   

Commissioned by SAH and published by University of Virginia (UVA) Press, the BUS series identifies and celebrates the rich cultural, economic, and geographical diversity of the United States as it is reflected in the architecture of each state. BUS books have won awards from the American Association for State and Local History, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the Association of American Publishers, Preservation Houston, the San Antonio Conservation Society, Preservation Texas Preservation Trust of Vermont, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the Southeast Chapter of SAH (SESAH).

As the founding editor of SAH Archipedia, Esperdy has overseen the development of SAH Archipedia since 2010. Boland Erkkila joined the SAH Archipedia team in 2014 as project editor for the State 100 Project and was promoted to managing editor of SAH Archipedia in 2019. In addition to overseeing the publication of born-digital content in SAH Archipedia, her role has recently expanded to include the development of SAH Archipedia–based public programs and teacher resources.

When it launched in 2012, SAH Archipedia contained 8,500 building entries, histories, and thematic essays drawn from BUS books. Jointly developed by SAH and UVA Press with major funding from NEH, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, SAH Archipedia now contains more than 20,000 entries and continues to grow with the addition of new born-digital content. In addition to building entries, SAH Archipedia includes place-based and thematic essays, comprised of peer-reviewed scholarship contributed by architectural historians nationwide, and lesson plans designed for K-12 educators. SAH received three NEH grants to develop born-digital content for SAH Archipedia and to develop content for all 50 states—a milestone that was achieved in 2017. Esperdy and Boland Erkkila have worked with more than 450 authors to develop born-digital content for SAH Archipedia. A newly designed, open access edition of SAH Archipedia launched in 2019, which brought the resource to a worldwide audience of researchers, students, teachers, preservation advocates, cultural tourists and others interested in learning more about the architectural history of the U.S. In 2020, SAH was awarded one of several  Graham Foundation organization grants to revise, update, and expand SAH Archipedia’s content and examine US sites and settlements of LatinX, African American, Native American, and Asian diasporic communities in order to tell the full story of the built environment of the U.S. In the future, SAH plans to include global content in SAH Archipedia.

Learn more about the BUS and SAH Archipedia at:

Gabrielle Esperdy is an architectural and urban historian whose work examines intersections of modernism and consumerism in metropolitan landscapes. Her most recent book, American Autopia, studies how architectural and urban discourse absorbed the ideals and concerns of the automobile and the territories of the car in the middle of the 20th century. Her first book, Modernizing Main Street, documented efforts to revitalize retail corridors during the Great Depression. Esperdy has published widely on topics ranging from feminism and architecture to queer theory and urbanism, as well as intersections of technology, historiography, and methodology. She is currently a project researcher for Ed Ruscha’s Streets of Los Angeles, a digital humanities initiative of the Getty Research Institute, for which she is developing a morphology of 20th-century commercial buildings and spaces. Esperdy is the author of histories of 100 significant buildings and structures in New Jersey (forthcoming in Archipedia). A columnist for Places, Gabrielle has appeared on numerous broadcast and web series, including Ten that Changed America on PBS. She was a public scholar in the humanities for the state of New Jersey from 2017 to 2020. Esperdy’s work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Graham Foundation, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, among others. She was educated at Smith College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is currently Professor of Architecture in the Hillier College of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where she has taught since 2001.

Catherine Boland Erkkila is an architectural historian whose research focuses on 19th and 20th century American cultural landscapes. Her current work examines the power of mobile landscapes of transit to define national identity at the turn of the 20th century. She has been awarded the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a resident fellowship at the Newberry Library, and the Vernacular Architecture Forum’s Bishir Prize. Boland Erkkila holds a doctorate in art history and a master’s degree in cultural heritage and preservation studies, both from Rutgers University, where she previously taught. While at SAH, Boland Erkkila served as an assistant researcher for the Mellon-funded SAH Data Project, which is analyzing data to assess  the health of architectural history as a field in higher education in the United States.

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.

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
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