Wait, Chelsea

(414) 229-4200
Mitchell Hall 371


Chelsea Wait is a PhD candidate in Architecture at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (SARUP), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). With an interdisciplinary background, Chelsea has focused on community collaboration, storytelling, public history, local architecture history, and integrates her public art practice. Chelsea’s dissertation looks at how people practice care as it relates to the built environment and urban landscape. She looks at community archives and traditional archives in order to thoroughly understand how we, as humans, construct a shared existence in the physical world imbued with our cultural values. This paints a more detailed look at who building ‘users’ are, and a long-term perspective on the relationship between users and the buildings and places they inhabit. Her research focuses on Sherman Park, Milwaukee, the site of intersecting poverty, racism, incarceration, and dispossession, and finds that focusing on acts of care as a means to strengthen vulnerable community networks. She has led workshops on sensory ethnography, home and belonging, and racialization of the landscape. She has received a 2014 UWM Teaching Award as well as the 2014 Leenhouts Memorial Scholarship. She was a 2018 Ambassador from UWM for the Vernacular Architecture Forum. She has presented her work at conferences of the Society of Architectural Historians, American Folklore Society, Imagining America, the Vernacular Architecture Forum, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (UWM), and the Landscape, Space, and Place Conference at Indiana University.

In addition to her arts practice, she has professional experience with the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis in Turkey, a joint project between Cornell University and Harvard Art Museums. Since 2013, she has also taught a course in the Peck School of the Arts entitled Multicultural America, about visual culture, race, and artistic representation. Chelsea’s professional experience includes public art practice and studio design in lighting, furniture, and relief murals. She is currently an adjunct faculty at SARUP, teaching introduction to design and local architecture histories.

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Bachelor of Science in Architecture, Ball State University, 2008
Bachelor of Science in French, Ball State University, 2008

Research Focus

Architectural History and Theory
Critical Race Theory and the American Landscape
Public History
Collaborative and Design Ethnography
Community Engagement
Material and Visual Culture


ARCH-190: Local Architecture Histories
ART-150: Multicultural America

Selected Work

“Race and Place in the American Landscape,” Paper Presented at Society of Architectural Historians Annual conference, April 16-18, 2018.
“Racialization of the Landscape,” Paper Presented at the Landscape, Space, and Place Conference at Indiana University, March 2018.
“Home and Community Storytelling” Workshop Organizer at the Annual Gathering of Imagining America, March 2016.
“Perspectives on Field Schools,” Panel at the 2013 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting, April 2014.