Gabrielle Esperdy

Contact Info

Title: Associate Professor
Office: 533 Weston
Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 1-3 pm or by appointment
Phone: 973-596-3026
Dept: School of Architecture

About Me

Gabrielle Esperdy is an architectural historian and critic whose work examines the intersection of architecture, consumerism, and modernism in urban and suburban landscapes, especially in the U.S. in the 20th and 21st centuries. She is particularly interested in minor or everyday buildings and with the ways that social, economic, and political issues shape the built environment. Her first book, Modernizing Main Street (Chicago, 2008), examined efforts to use the architecture of modernism to transform shopping districts and commercial strips as an antidote to the Great Depression. Her current book project studies attitudes towards the commercial landscape and their influence on architectural discourse since WWII. Her blog, American Road Trip, considers historical, monumental and offbeat sites, as well as the ordinary, non-heroic places and communities that are the cultural bedrock of the built and natural landscapes of America. She is Associate Professor of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Editor of SAH Archipedia, an online resource for the history of the built environment. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Architectural Design, Perspecta, History of Photography, and Design Observer.


City University of New York, Ph.D

City University of New York, M.A.

Smith College, B.A. 

Teaching Experience

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Pratt Institute, 1995-2001

Assistant Professor, NJIT, 2001-2007

Associate Professor, NJIT, 2007-present

Professional Membership

Society of Architectural Historians

College Art Association

American Studies Association

Selected Publications and Recent Research

“Mainstream & Marginal: Situating the American Roadside Photographs of John Margolies,” Buildings and Landscapes (2012).

“The Incredible True Adventures of the Architectress in America,” Places (2012).

“Flatbush Start to Finish,” UrbanOmnibus (2012).

“Discovering America in Reyner Banham’s Rear View Mirror,” Places (2012).

“OpArch: The Once and Future Past,” Journal of Architectural Education (2011).

“Women in North American Architecture,” Dictionnaire des Créatrices (Editions des Femmes, 2011).

“Précis for a Field Guide to Joy,” DesignInquiry (2011).

“Driven to Joy,” Core77 (2010).

“Designing Less from Bau to BIM,” DesignInquiry (2010).

“Less is More Again-a Manifesto,” Design Observer (2009).

Modernizing Main Street: Architecture and Consumer Culture in the New Deal (Chicago: 2008).

“I am a Modernist: Morris Lapidus and his Critics,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (2007).

Architecture & Autopia: Imagining the Commercial Landscape since World War II [book manuscript in preparation]
Formalists’ Revenge: Tags, Buildings and Doing Architectural History Online,” College Art Association [2013].

“The Street, the Strip & the Freeway: On the Legibility of Place in the Territories of the Car,” Harvard Graduate School of Design Cambridge Talks VII [2013].

“Ugly America & the Shopping Mall: A Time-Life View of the 50s & 60s,” Society of Architecture Historians [2013].

“Roadside Metropolis: Automobility and Urbanism in the 1960s,” Urban History Association [2012].

“The Intellectual vs. the Suburbs,” Society for American City and Regional Planning History [2011].

“Retail Values: Architecture & Shopping from Gruen to Koolhaas,” Dallas Architecture Forum [2010].