Charles L. Davis II is an Assistant Professor of Architectural History, Theory and Criticism. He received his Ph.D. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, and has an M.Arch from the State University of New York at Buffalo. His academic research examines the critical integrations of race and style theory in modern architectural discourses of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Charles is co-editor of the cultural reader Diversity and Design: Understanding Hidden Consequences (Routledge), which explores the ways that diversity and design influence one another in the creation and experience of the built environment. He has also published articles in peer-reviewed journals including Architectural Research Quarterly and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, as well as in interdisciplinary journals such as Append-x and VIA. His design work has been exhibited at galleries in New York state and North Carolina and featured in architectural journals such as Aggregate and Places. He is currently the faculty mentor for the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students at UNC Charlotte.
His current book manuscript, entitled Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style is forthcoming in the Culture Politics and the Built Environment series of the University of Pittsburgh Press. This intellectual history traces the historical integrations of race and style theory in “architectural organicism,” or architectural movements that modeled design on the generative principles of nature. He argues that figures such as Viollet-le-Duc, Gottfried Semper, Louis Sullivan and William Lescaze considered buildings to be more than inert assemblies of functional materials, but as figurative organic matter inherently capable of possessing character. This research identifies the racial content of modern architectural styles by relating the iconography of surface ornamentations to the ethnographic associations of underlying spatial and structural building typologies. This research has been supported by grants from the Canadian Center for Architecture, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Charles is also co-editor of a second book project, tentatively entitled Race and Modern Architecture, which collects 18 innovative case studies on the racial discourses of modern architecture from the Enlightenment to the present.
Before joining the faculty in Charlotte, Charles taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania, Parsons the New School for Design, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Ohio State University. Previous to teaching architectural history, he worked in architectural firms in New York State and Pennsylvania. He has been awarded several fellowships to pursue academic research, including a Postdoctoral Research fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.