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Sara Stevens is an architectural and urban historian. Her interests include the history and theory of architecture and urban design, urban history, economic theory, and the history of infrastructure. Her research focuses on the relationship between architecture and capital, looking at American real estate developers of the twentieth century and exploring the cultural economy of architectural practice, risk, and expertise.
Her book, “Developing expertise: Architecture and real estate in metropolitan America” (Yale University Press, 2016), investigates real estate development in twentieth-century American cities, and how developers, investors, and architects worked together to build subdivisions and superblocks, cul-de-sacs, and towers. Connecting the split narratives of suburban and urban history, it argues that early twentieth century suburbs shaped downtowns during postwar urban renewal. “Developing expertise” uncovers the visions and ideals mid-century developers had for American cities, shedding light on how different threads of modernist architecture answered capitalism’s call.
Before coming to UBC, Sara has taught in the schools of architecture at Rice, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University, taught in Columbia’s graduate urban design program, and co-organized conferences on the history of urban infrastructure at Princeton’s Center for Architecture, Urbanism, and Infrastructure. With a professional degree in architecture from Rice, she has also worked as an architect in Houston and New York.