• The Architecture of Deafness: Two-Hundred Years of the Deaf School as an Architectural Type in the United States, 1817–2017
    Jeffrey Mansfield

Krusmark + Krusmark, AIA, Wyoming School for the Deaf, 1963, Casper, WY. Photo: Jeffrey Mansfield.

Deaf schools are architecturally and spatially ambiguous. Featuring elements of campus and asylum architecture, their intentions are unclear: Are they to educate or exclude? Through welfare, assimilation, and resistance, the architectural forms and vocabularies of deaf schools tell a broader story of evolving attitudes towards deafness, disability, and normalcy, as well as civic virtue, modernity, and national growth and identity. Their story is one of industry, biology, pathology, politics, and power. Though physically and cognitively separated from society, the deaf school is the site of earliest interactions among deaf people, resulting in subversive cultural behaviors and outcomes. Architectural discourse tend to focus on more visible structures like prisons, factories, and hospitals, and although the story of the deaf school remains largely untold, it is inscribed into the bricks and mortar and onto the grounds of deaf schools throughout America, with much to offer in architectural, educational, and psychological discourse.

Jeffrey Mansfield is a John W. Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress and a designer whose work explores the intersection of architecture, landscape, and language. His work has been published in AD, Tacet, ArchitectureBoston, and Coronagraph, and exhibited internationally at the Sharjah Biennial, Bergen Assembly, Sao Paulo Biennial, and MoMA PS1. He currently works as a design and research associate at MASS Design Group in Boston. Previously, with Adam Sokol Architecture Practice, he initiated 202020, a design and research platform for transformative urbanism in Buffalo. Mansfield trained at the offices of Kennedy Violich Architecture (Boston) and HHF Architekten (Basel). He holds a master's of architecture at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, and studied at Princeton University. He has been deaf since birth and attended a school for the deaf in Massachusetts.