Michael Allen

Michael Allen

International Centre for Heritage
Doctoral researcher

Contact details


  • BA Literature, Union Institute and University (USA)


Michael Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, as well as a Lecturer in American Culture Studies (AMCS), at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. Allen’s university teaching has focused on interdisciplinary investigation of architectural history, cultural landscapes, the economics of real estate and the politics of urban planning. At the university, Allen serves on the Advisory Committee for the Mellon-funded The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative. In professional practice, since 2009 Allen has been Director of the Preservation Research Office, a heritage consultancy. He is a US federally qualified architectural historian who has worked on various historic preservation projects in nine US states.

Doctoral research

PhD title
Dissonant Modernism: Mass Housing as Heritage in the United States of America
Dr Ioanna Katapidi and Professor Mike Robinson
Cultural Heritage MA by Research/PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)


This dissertation examines dissonance in the valuation of modernist mass housing projects in the United States of America as architectural heritage. Recent appraisals of modernist architecture as worthy of heritage designation and protection in the US have largely omitted consideration of mass housing, while effectively expanding valuation of modernist eras, styles and specific designers. Mass housing seems stigmatized as modernist architecture, and as it remains outside of valued heritage much of its physical forms have been demolished since the mid-1990s. However in the years since the 2008 financial crisis, the issue of affordable urban housing has moved to the forefront of the future of cities worldwide. Existing mass housing represents both a cultural heritage and a needed supply of urban housing in the 21st century, and research into the valuation of mass housing will be of urgent use to urban planners, affordable housing advocates and scholars studying modernist architecture.