Michael R. Allen’s work encompasses architectural history, cultural geography, historic preservation and political activism. Allen practices critical heritage conservation, documenting buildings and cultural landscapes as possible clues to a collective future. Some of his work deals with nationalism and US historic preservation practice and law, an intersection that his years of professional practice in heritage have illuminated. His interdisciplinary work seeks to reveal the ways in which built environment encodes hegemonic and oppositional power relationships, economic histories and granular imposition of statecraft. he also is concerned with the relationship of emergent, dominant and rejected architectural forms and styles to political ideologies.
Allen currently holds appointments as Senior Lecturer in Architecture and Landscape Architecture and Lecturer in American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Allen also directs his own consultancy, the Preservation Research Office, which has undertaken cultural heritage preservation projects in St. Louis and across the Midwest since its founding in 2009. He founded the Department of Walking as a platform for participatory critical spatial tours. Meanwhile he has lead hundreds of walking tours around St. Louis, southern Illinois and other parts.
Allen’s publications include chapters in Buildings of Missouri (forthcoming), Bending the Future: 50 Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States (2016) and The Making of an All-America City: East St. Louis at 150 (2011). His writing has appeared in Next City, Temporary Art Review, Preservation Leadership Forum, CTheory, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other outlets. His work has been covered by Architect, ArchDaily, CityLab, Metropolis, 99% Invisible and NPR.
Much thanks: Emma Riley and Tori Abernathy for graphic design assistance for this website.