• Stull & Lee: Black Architecture Vision for an Infrastructural City
    Stull & Lee
    Gabriel Cira, James Heard, and Julian Phillips
    The Designery at YouthBuild Boston, Boston
    Feb 29, 2024 to Sep 01, 2024
    Gabriel Cira, James Heard & Julian Phillips

Stull & Lee, Inc., Ruggles Station Interior, Boston, Massachusetts, built 1987. Courtesy Stull & Lee, Inc. Photo: Peter Vanderwarker

This gallery exhibition builds the origin story and the city-shaping legacy of the Black-led architecture firm Stull & Lee. Donald Stull worked for The Architects Collaborative (TAC) under Walter Gropius in the early 1960s and went on to found Stull Associates, and eventually Stull & Lee with M. David Lee in 1966. Similar to TAC, the majority of Stull & Lee’s commissions were public: transit, schools, housing, and community service buildings. The earliest work by Donald Stull, both unbuilt and built, shows an exuberant spirit of design that is rich in supergraphical wit and strikingly consistent in theme and style. In the 1970s and 1980s, the firm applied its energy to projects for urban-focused development groups (UDCs, CDCs, redevelopment authorities) with an approach that favored neighborhood social coherence and avoided exacerbating displacement and privatization. The working methods that they practiced 50 years ago are models for architects putting methods of social activism into practice today.

Gabriel Cira is a licensed architect based in Massachusetts. He is a professor in the history of art at MassArt, where he teaches the longstanding Architecture of Boston course and other architecture and art history seminars. Cira’s work and research focus on historic preservation, vernacular/popular histories, ecological design, accessibility and preservation, and infrastructure history. He was educated at Princeton University, where he received his MArch, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelor’s degree, and is a member of The Architecture Lobby’s Cooperative Network initiative.

James Heard is an architect, historian, and educator based in Somerville, Massachusetts and is currently teaching in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Tufts University and practicing independently as an architect. He received his bachelor’s degree in architecture at Virginia Tech and master’s of science in architecture studies with a focus in history, theory, and criticism at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His master’s thesis, “Professionals in a Soviet America: Federal Housing Policy, the Popular Front, and Architects in Los Angeles, 1919–1947,” explores the intersection of housing policy discourse and activism in Southern California. He is a member of the Boston chapter of The Architecture Lobby and was the organization’s former national design coordinator.

Julian Phillips is a designer at Bruner/Cott Architects (BCA). With historic preservation at the forefront of Phillips’ work, he is a key member on several of BCA’s ongoing preservation projects including Arlington Street Church, the Blackstone Steam Plant at Harvard University, and the Moderna Forbes Hill Mansion. He is active in a variety of local and national industry organizations such as the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and its Boston Chapter, BosNOMA, where he serves as executive secretary and program coordinator for Project Pipeline. Phillips is currently on the Boston Society of Architecture Membership Committee, is a young advisor board member for the Boston Preservation Alliance, and an adjunct professor at MassArt.