Canadian/Norwegian architect Jason Mrdeza has won Washington University in Saint Louis’ 2012 Steedman Fellowship in Architecture International Design Competition. Sponsored by the College of Architecture and the Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the biennial competition is open to young architects from around the world within the first eight yeas of practice. The winner receives a $50,000 prize, one of the largest competition prizes in the U.S., to support study and research abroad. Mrdeza’s winning project, “Mediating Adjacencies: Inspiring Collaboration within Context,” was chosen out of 120 entrees.
Craig Dykers, principal at Snøhetta, created the 2012 competition program calling for a new net-zero facility that would house and stimulate interdisciplinary cooperation between the Sam Fox School’s art, architecture, and design graduate programs while integrating five existing buildings. Dykers served as jury chair for the competition, alongside Susannah Drake, principle at dlandstudio, and Sarah Dunn and Martin Felsen, principals at UrbanLab.
Mrdeza’s winning design works to strengthen interdisciplinary connections within the school and university at large while highlighting the divisions between public and private functions. Classrooms, galleries, and other public and semi-public spaces are located on the lower level of a large, three-story structure. A public pathway cuts through the arrangement, utilizing the site’s gentle slope to draw in visitors while the building’s transparency allows onlookers to passively engage in the activities happening inside the design schools. This first-floor, dubbed the “mound,” would be topped with an active green roof, and upper levels would be contained within five large “lantern blocks.” These structures, clad in luminescent PVC panels and set at slight angels from one another, would each correspond to a different discipline and contain offices and studio space for their respective programs.
“The project negotiates the need for internal reflection while catalyzing meetings between disciplines and individuals,” wrote Mrdeza in his proposal. “Divisions between public and private are retained without hindering interdisciplinary and exta-institutional collaboration.”
Mrdeza will use his award to study connections between landscape, architecture, and sustainability while traveling to Japan and other sites in Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and South America.