Discipline: Architecture – text

Constance Vale

Discipline: Architecture – text
Region: St. Louis, MO
MacDowell Fellowships: 2021

Constance Vale is a licensed architect and educator. She is director of the architecture practice Constance Vale Studio LLC and the experimental research office The Factory of Smoke & Mirrors, where she undertakes aesthetic and conceptual investigations in the territory between architecture, art, theatre, and emerging technology. Vale is an assistant professor and chair of undergraduate architecture at Washington University in St. Louis. She previously taught at SCI-Arc and at UCLA.

This spring, Vale was selected by competition to join an international array of architects designing residences for the On Olive development in St. Louis. She is currently collaborating with Yevgeniy Vorobeychik to create a 1:8 scale experimental platform for an autonomous vehicle. Vale is editor and coauthor, with Marcelo Spina and Georgina Huljich, of the Graham Foundation-supported book Mute Icons & Other Dichotomies of the Real in Architecture (2021). The 2019 symposium “Decoys and Depictions: Images of the Digital” built upon her research. At MacDowell, Vale developed her manuscript for her upcoming book, Decoys & Depictions: Images of the Digital to be published by Actar in 2023 that carries forward ideas from the symposium and a set of three exhibitions by the same name that Vale curated and exhibited at Washington University in St. Louis. The book examines the social and political implications of the architectural “decoys” that have emerged in relation to emerging technology. She framed her analysis through a history of architectural mediation and representation situated in an expanded field encompassing military deceptions, dioramas, photography, tableau, theater, and film sets. She drew connections from that history to a flexible taxonomy of architects working within images today to examine how they confront fictional objectivity, create layered material frames, respond to informational formats, assess accumulations of data, and create operative interfaces.

Vale’s work has been exhibited at the A+D Museum and published in The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, The Los Angeles Times, Archinect, and CLOG. Vale earned a B.F.A. from Parsons School of Design and an M.Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture.

Portrait by James Byard



Constance Vale worked in the Star studio.

Funded by Alpha Chi Omega, a national fraternity founded in 1885, Star Studio — built in 1911–1912 — was the first studio given to the residency by an outside organization. To this day, Alpha Chi sorority pledges learn the story of Star Studio and its role in supporting American arts and letters. Beginning as a nicely proportioned…

Learn more