Willkens is a practicing architectural designer and historian. Currently, she is the Society of Architectural Historians’ H. Allen Brooks Travelling Fellow and her sponsored project, entitled “Immersive Islands”, is examining the intersections of tourism and cultural heritage in Iceland, Cuba, and Japan. As a transatlantic scholar with research experience at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Monticello and exhibitions in Washington, D.C. and London, her work explores investigative visualization and opportunities for the sustainable preservation of cultural capital.
The submitted piece features mill towns of the Chattahoochee River Valley that once formed a unique and sinuous river city, thriving from 1860s through the 1980s as the center of American textile manufacturing. The entrepreneurialism and productivity of the Langdale, Riverview, Shawmut, and Fairfax mills once shaped a way of life. However, the closure of the mills (c.1990) and deportation of production overseas rapidly changed the demographics and architectural landscape of the collective river city. Using photography and 3D scanning, this project examines duel conditions in the area, pairing the height of production with the current state of deterioration.