Sara Stevens



Ph.D., Princeton University

M.E.D., Yale University

B. Arch, Rice University

B.A., Rice University


Sara Stevens is an architectural and urban historian. Her interests include the history and theory of architecture, urban history, economic theory, and the history of infrastructure. Her research focuses on American real estate developers of the twentieth century, exploring the cultural economy of architectural practice, risk, and expertise.

Her book project, “Developing Expertise: Real Estate and Architecture in Metropolitan America,” (forthcoming, Yale University Press) studies 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. In studying drawings, images, brochures, and advertisements, it 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. Stevens’ masters’ thesis, Systems of Retail: The Bigger Box, studied big-box architectural formats of the suburban landscape and the underlying networks of business and finance that produced them. With a professional degree in architecture from Rice, she has also worked as an architect in Houston and New York.

Stevens has taught in the schools of architecture at Rice, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale. In 2013-2014, she was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities Research Center at Rice University. She has co-organized conferences on the history of urban infrastructure at Princeton through the Center for Architecture, Urbanism + Infrastructure. Her writing has been published in ThresholdsPidginConstructsThe Globetrotting Shopaholic, and The Journal of Architectural Education