Assistant Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture
Ph.D., Harvard University
M.Arch, University of Detroit Mercy
Director, Studio Plat
Jay Cephas is an historian of architecture, landscapes, and cities conducting research that explores the relationships between labor, technology, and identity in the built environment. Jay analyzes both ordinary and critical spatial practices to recover the latent and as of yet invisible knowledges that are transmitted through the bodies and buildings of urban environments. In his forthcoming book, Jay deploys these frameworks to examine the agonism structuring Fordism and urbanization in early twentieth-century Detroit. Jay’s latest research project turns to New York City to address the knowledge transfer occurring between visionary architects and labor activists in their joint efforts to create cooperative housing.
Jay’s recent publications include “Picturing Modernity: Race, Labor, and Landscape in the American South,” which traces the ways in which Black labor served to reinforce racialized landscape production in Georgia; and “Agricultural Urbanism in Detroit,” which examines the changing meaning of urbanism in the post-industrial city. In 2020, Jay was awarded a Graham Foundation grant to support the Black Architects Archive, a repository of under-represented architects from across 200 years of history, and in 2019 Jay served as a W.E.B. Du Bois Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Jay is also the founding director of Studio Plat, a geospatial research and development practice that examines the past, present, and future of cities.
Jay has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Michigan, Cranbrook Academy of Art, Northeastern University, and University of Detroit Mercy. He received his M.Arch. from University of Detroit Mercy and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.