Danielle Willkens

Danielle Willkens

Assistant Professor

104 Dudley Hall

Auburn, AL 36849


Doctor of Philosophy in Architectural History and Theory, University College London, The Bartlett School of Architecture Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, Savanah College of Art & Design Master of Architecture, University of Virginia Master of Philosophy in the History of Art & Architecture, University of Cambridge Bachelor of Science with Honors in Architecture, University of Virginia


Danielle Willkens is an Assistant Professor of Architecture in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture. She is a practicing designer, researcher, and educator who is particularly interested in bringing architectural engagement to diverse audiences through interactive projects. Her experiences in practice and research include design/build projects, public installations, and on-site investigations as well as extensive archival work in several countries. As an avid photographer and illustrator, her work has been recognized in the American Institute of Architects National Photography Competition and she has contributed graphics to several exhibitions and publications. As an educator, she was recognized as one of two recipients of the 2017-2018 American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)/ Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) New Faculty Teaching Award.

Dr. Willkens was the Project Manager for the Learning Barge, the University of Virginia’s innovative design/build project for a floating classroom and sustainable field station on the Elizabeth River. The project was funded by grants from the Environmental Protection Agency P3 program, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was also the recipient of the Society of Architectural Historians’ H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellowship. Between June 2016 and May 2017 she traveled to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Cuba, and Japan to research the impact of tourism on cultural heritage sites; her research blog posts can be found here. Selected design and research projects can be found at her website and have been featured in CRIT, the Journal of Architectural Education, TimeOut London, and the Washington Post.

Vested in the cultivation of 'early intervention' architectural education, she has been working with Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) for several years. She was an Instructor for architecture courses in the Summer Studies program and as Independent Learning Curriculum Developer, she created an original course on architecture for gifted 5th-7th grade students that opened in late 2014. Since 2015, she has served as the curriculum developer and lead instructor for an original 7-week summer session of the eStudies program: Architecture: Reinvention & Design. Dr. Willkens also runs Auburn University’s on-campus architecture summer camps for rising 11th-12th graders and the Birmingham Design Camp for rising 6th-8th graders, administered through the Auburn’s Youth Program.

Since she arrived at Auburn, she has been working with Associate Professor Junshan Liu from the McWhorter School of Building Science on a series of projects that record and represent the built environment through the use of 3D LiDAR scans, UAV photogrammetry, and digital modeling. Their work documenting the Rural Studio was featured in the 2016 Auburn Talks. Currently, she is working with Professor Liu and an interdisciplinary team from the McWhorter School of Building Science, the Department of History, and the Media Production Group on “Walking in the Footsteps of History”, an experimental survey and modeling project to digitally reconstruct the area south of the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the 'Bloody Sunday' events of March 7, 1965.

Her current research on ‘The Transatlantic Design Network’ examines the enduring connections of figures, architectural sites, and theories for interpreting the built environment. Largely grounded in primary research and architectural historiography, this project challenges the traditional modes of research dissemination in architectural history by integrating practice-based investigations. Her interests in Jeffersonian architecture were inspired by her time as a student and studio instructor at the University of Virginia as well as her tenure as an interpreter and researcher at Monticello. Returning to Jefferson’s mountaintop in summer 2018 as a short-term fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, she is developing her manuscript for publication with the University of Virginia Press: The Transatlantic Design Network: Jefferson, Soane, and agents of architectural exchange, 1768-1838. Thus far, her research has been supported by grants from Auburn University (College of Architecture, Design and Construction Seed Grant + an Intramural Grant), the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, and, most recently, a Franklin Research Grant from the American Philosophical Society (APS). 

Recent publications (selected):

(under advanced contract) Willkens, Danielle. The Transatlantic Design Network: Jefferson, Soane, and agents of architectural exchange, 1768-1838. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2019.

Willkens, Danielle, Richard Burt, Junshan Liu, Keith Hebert, David Carter, and Heather Haley, “Bringing History to Life: a digital reconstruction of Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’.“ Auburn Research 2.

Willkens, Danielle. “Capital and Carbon: Testing the Limits of Tourism in Iceland.” Urban Transcripts 2: 1 (forthcoming 2018).

Willkens, Danielle. “Ruins and renewal in Cuba.” The Architectural Historian 6 (2018): 4-8.

Willkens, Danielle. “Of Time and Place [and Technology]: documenting Hale County.” Dialectic V: The Figure of Vernacular in Architectural Imagination (2017): 81-92.

Willkens, Danielle. “A Year as the SAH H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow: Reflections on Travel, Time, and Technology.” Publications and Research (blog), Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), July 14, 2017.*

* Twelve other posts available on the research blog

Willkens, Danielle. “Monuments in Mountains.” Lobby: Faith 5 (Autumn 2016).

Willkens, Danielle. “Reading Words and Images in the Description(s) of Sir John Soane’s Museum.” Architectural Histories 4 (1): 5, Building-Word-Image Special Collection (2016): 1-22, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/ah.204 *

* runner-up for the 2018 EAHN publication award

Willkens, Danielle. “Epistolary Architecture: the Transatlantic Design Network, 1768-1838.” On Site review: on writing, or not 34 (2016): 4-11. Available online: http://www.onsitereview.ca/34writing/

Kenniff, Thomas-Bernard, Christian Parreno, Mariana Pestana, David Roberts, and Danielle Willkens. “Foundations (Wates House 1975, Lobby 2014).” Lobby: Un/Spectacle 1 (Autumn 2014): 10-11.

(photography) King, Julia. George Hadfield: Architect of the Federal City. London: Ashgate, 2014.