University of Illinois: Illinois architecture professor awarded Graham Foundation grant

T.F. Tierney, an architecture professor emerita at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has been awarded a research and development grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts to examine Ladera, a 1940s interracial housing cooperative in Portola, California, and the role that federal lending practices played in maintaining racially segregated suburbs.

The Chicago-based Graham Foundation supports the development of diverse ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society through competitive project-based grants to individuals and organizations.

Individuals may be awarded production and presentation grants to bring a project to realization and public presentation, and research and development grants to support research-related expenses in the early stages of a project. Tierney’s project is one of 71 selected from 700 proposals in the 2021 class of grant recipients.

Tierney’s research interests emphasize contemporary urbanism. She is the founding director of URL: Urban Research Lab, which explores the intersection of networked technologies and the built environment.

Her project “Racializing Risk: The History of Ladera Housing Cooperative” looks at the Federal Housing Administration’s differential lending practices in the 1940s and how they played a significant role in the structural institutionalization of segregated suburbs. It examines the Ladera Housing Cooperative, a post-World War II interracial housing cooperative that was imagined as a socially and environmentally conscious project, designed to be affordable and open to all without any restrictive membership covenants.

Tierney’s research will analyze the FHA’s practice of “credit rationing” – government-sponsored discrimination practiced by lending institutions. Her hypothesis is that FHA lending practices achieved the same impact as redlining in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia in maintaining racial segregation.

As in postwar California, affordable housing is a scarce commodity today, Tierney said, and the effects of racially segregated housing still linger.

Tierney’s project will culminate in publications in peer-reviewed planning journals, as well as a podcast featuring interviews with experts in sociology, history and urban planning.

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