Race, Power & Preservation

Tune in for the second annual edition of this popular program

Preservation, far from representing a neutral position, is a symbolic, political act. For the better part of 50 years, preservationists have been working to “preserve historic character” and advance “appropriate” projects for historic neighborhoods — but who defines these terms and what un/intended results have they produced? In preservation and planning, too often these subjective ideas have been used as tools to reinforce existing power structures and racial bias in our built environment. 

Join PPS and national thought leaders for a discussion on the foundational terms historic preservation must reconsider in order to affect positive, systemic change here in Providence and more broadly. 

October 4 // 4:00 pm
Free // Advance registration required


Dr. Tara Dudley is a historic preservation consultant and a Lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research examines the contributions of African American builders and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in Austin and Texas and the architectural activities of New Orleans’ gens de couleur libres (free people of color). She is the author of Building Antebellum New Orleans: Free People of Color and Their Influence (University of Texas Press, 2021) and of the forthcoming biography ‘There is Something to be Done’: The Life and Work of John Saunders Chase. Her current research explores the contributions of African Americans to Austin’s built environment from the antebellum era onward and includes re-analysis of Austin’s only recognizable slave quarters building at the Neill-Cochran House Museum and identification of African American builders and architects from the city’s founding through the Jim Crow era. As a senior architectural historian for Austin-based preservation consulting firm HHM & Associates, Inc., she has been involved in various aspects of historic preservation, historical research, and writing and consults on projects on local, regional, and national levels. Dr. Dudley obtained her doctorate in Architectural History and master’s degree in Historic Preservation from UT-Austin and holds a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Princeton University.

Jennifer Minner investigates urban change, building reuse, and community memory in all manner of places – within mega-event impact craters, in demolition sites, along commercial strips, in the analysis of future scenarios, and in reflections of the city in art. Her research and teaching focus is on land-use/spatial planning, historic preservation, and community development. She directs the Just Places Lab, a platform for multi-disciplinary research and creative action related to place, the built environment, and social equity. In recent years her work has focused on equitable preservation and heritage conservation logics; urban memory through art-making and film; and creative and critical approaches to the technologies used to analyze, visualize, and shape places. Minner is Conference Chair for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (term: 2021–2023). She is on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Planning Association. She is one of the founding members of the Circularity, Reuse, and Zero Waste Development (CR0WD) Working Group. She serves on the advisory council for Historic Ithaca. Minner’s education background includes a B.A. in anthropology from the University of Washington, an M.U.R.P. from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Christine Malecki West is a principal and co-owner of KITE Architects based in Providence, Rhode Island. Her commitment to positive community impact is a guiding value at KITE and is reflected both in their work and in her numerous civic and volunteer roles. Her career as an architect has focused on effective management and technical excellence that is critical for effective design. Christine’s appreciation for KITE’s creative approach brought her to Providence in 2003 to join the firm that she has co-owned since 2008, and is a value that drives the team to this day.  After working as an architect for nearly a decade in the Washington, D.C., area, Christine completed post-professional graduate work at Harvard that focused on management and development issues related to sustainable building. Committed to serving the community beyond her work with KITE, Christine is heavily involved in a number of civic boards and nonprofit organizations. She has been Chair of the Providence City Plan Commission since 2012 and is the Architect member of the Providence Building Board. 

Architect, author, and academic Craig L. Wilkins explores the intersections of architecture, identity, and justice across multiple platforms in various forms. His work uncovers and makes plain the oft-hidden traces of presence laced throughout our shared spaces, the familiar echoes of participation that shape the places we live, work, and play, the stories of architecture that challenge common misconceptions about who is authorized to contribute to, access, find joy and sanction in the built environment. The former director of the Detroit Community Design Center, he is currently creative director of the Wilkins project, a social justice, strategic design alliance that provides architectural, urban design and planning services, public interest design solutions, and expertise in engaged public discourse. Dr. Wilkins is the author of “The Aesthetics of Equity: Notes on Race, Space, Architecture & Music” (University of Minnesota 2007) as well as “Ruffneck Constructivist”“Diversity Among Architects: From Margin to Center,”  and co-editor of “Activist Architecture: A Field Guide to Community-Based Practice.” He is a 2017 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum National Design Award winner and is a lecturer in architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Wilkins received his PhD from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Science in real estate and urban development from Columbia University, and his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Detroit.

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