Mabel O. Wilson teaches courses in architectural design, architectural theory, and visual cultural studies. Her seminars examine a range of subjects including raciality and architectural discourse; space and the politics of cultural memory and history; and theories of time, cinema and databases. Her architectural design studios utilize methods of parametric data-mining and fabrication to explore urbanization, new technologies, and globalization in African cities and systems of aggregation and material expression. She received a doctorate in American Studies from NYU (2007), and an M. Arch from Columbia’s GSAPP (1991). As the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor at GSAPP, she directs the program for Advanced Architectural Research, co directs the Global Africa Lab, and is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies in GSAS.
She is an award winning designer and scholar. Her collaborative design practices (KW: a and Studio AND) have worked on speculative and built projects. The (a)way station, in the collection of SFMoMA, received a design award from ID Magazine and has been exhibited widely. Her practice has been a competition finalist for several important cultural institutions including lower Manhattan’s African Burial Ground Memorial (with Dean Wolfe Architects) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African American History and Culture (with Diller Scofidio + Renfro.) The Wexner Center for the Arts, the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s Triennial, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and SF Cameraworks have exhibited her installations. She is currently compiling the rich photographic archive from her book Negro Building into an experimental exhibit and database as part of the Becoming History Project. Her research on African Cities and modern architecture appeared in the video and photography exhibition Listening There: Stories from Ghana.
Her scholarly research investigates space and cultural memory in black America, race and visual culture, and new technologies and the social production of space. Her essays have appeared in numerous journals and books on critical geography, cultural memory, visual culture, and architecture. Her recent book Negro Building – Black Americans and the World of Fairs and Museums studies how the spaces of world’s fairs, emancipation expositions, and grassroots public museums became sites to imagine Afro-modernity.