Michael R. Allen works as an academic researcher, historian, teacher, design critic, public artist, critical spatial tour guide and heritage conservationist in private practice. His practice is interdisciplinary with multichannel output. The binding ties in his research are investigation of the ideological and political constitution of architectural and infrastructural space, a commitment to studying material heritage and its conservation, and advocacy for the forms of liberatory agency that realize the potential of the modern metropolis to distribute wealth, knowledge and shelter.
Political economy of architecture; architectural and cultural theory; modernism in US and European city planning and architectural production; traditional settlement and vernacular architecture; public/social housing history, US and Europe; historic preservation; critical heritage study; metropolitan urbanism and the politics of inhabitation rights; modern segregation and the metropolis; “right-sizing” and shrinking cities theory; collective design practices; nationalism and spatial production.
Contested Modernization: Federal Housing Blocks in the US and Former Yugoslavia (dissertation)
Pruitt-Igoe: An Architectural History of Recurrent Modernism (book-length manuscript in progress)
A Field Guide to the Vacant Lots of St. Louis (book-length manuscript project)
Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis (current)
Lecturer in American Culture Studies, Washington University in St. Louis (current)
Director and Principal Architectural Historian, Preservation Research Office (current)
Founder, Department of Walking (current)
Urbanist in Residence, Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2016)
Competition Co-Manager, Pruitt Igoe Now (2011-12)
Chapters: Midwest Architectural Journeys (forthcoming, 2019), Buildings of Missouri (forthcoming, 2019), 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).
Articles & Essays: Buildings and Landscapes, CityLab, Disegno, Next City, Temporary Art Review, Preservation Leadership Forum, Theory, nextSTL, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis American, Rain Taxi, Synthesis/Regeneration and other outlets.
Coverage: Architect, ArchDaily, Art in America, Metropolis, St. Louis Magazine, The Architect’s Newspaper, Fast Company, NPR, 99% Invisible.