Francesca Russello Ammon
Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation
Francesca Russello Ammon is Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning and Historic Preservation at PennDesign. She studies the history of the built environment, focusing on the social, material, and cultural life of twentieth-century cities. Professor Ammon is particularly interested in the processes and consequences of urban renewal, the influence of war on postwar planning and design, the dynamic relationship between cities and nature, and the ways that visual culture has shaped understanding of what cities are, have been, and should be. Her book, Bulldozer: Demolition and Clearance of the Postwar Landscape (Yale University Press, 2016), is the first history of the bulldozer and its transformation from military weapon to essential tool for creating the post-World War II American landscapes of urban renewal, suburban development, and interstate highways. Her work has also appeared in the Journal of Planning History, Journal of Urban History, and Technology & Culture, among other venues. During 2016-17, she is also a Mellon Researcher with the Canadian Centre for Architecture's initiative on Photography and/of Architecture.
Professor Ammon is currently researching the intertwined histories of urban renewal and historic preservation in postwar North America. She aims to use digital mapping tools to aggregate, analyze, and disseminate historical documents from these development processes at the scale of the individual site. Photographs, plans, oral histories, and the contemporary built environment itself are all central to this work. Learn more about Professor Ammon's work on her personal website.