Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced seven finalists for the $100,000 Wheelwright Grant which is awarded annually for travel-based architectural research. This prize was first given in 1935 to purely GSD grads until it was revamped in 2013 to be an open competition. The 2014 competition received nearly 200 submissions from 46 countries. The jury awarded special commendation to seven individuals for their exceptional design talent and imaginative research proposals. The winner will be announced on April 30th. Jose Ahedo Studio Ahedo Barcelona Wheelwright proposal: Domesticated Grounds: Design and Domesticity Within Animal Farming Systems. Jose Ahedo established his own firm, Studio Ahedo, in 2010. His first completed project is Blanca, a dairy complex in the Pyrenees, which includes 13 buildings comprising animal facilities, research labs, and an education center. Ana Dana Beros Think Space Zagreb, Croatia Wheelwright proposal: INTERMUNDIA: Re-Imagining Border-Scape in Mediterranean Countries. Ana Dana Beros is an independent architect, curator, editor, educator, and exhibition designer. Alison Crawshaw Alison Crawshaw Architecture London Wheelwright proposal: The Poison and the Cure: Rubbish in the Information Age. Alison wrote a thesis on illegal building practices in Rome during her time as a Rome Scholar. Masaaki Iwamoto Vo Trong Nghia Architects Ho Chi Minh City Wheelwright proposal: Tropical Skin: Study on New Building Envelope for Tropical Megacities. His work includes low-cost housing, a kindergarten, and workplaces, has been widely published. Jimenez Lai Bureau Spectacular Chicago Wheelwright proposal: Caricatures, Fictions and Hyperboles: A Revisit of the World of Wonders. Jimenez Lai is the principal of Bureau Spectacular and an assistant architecture professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sean Lally Weathers Chicago Wheelwright proposal: Climate Design: The Architecture of Energies. Sean Lally is the founder of the firm Weathers and assistant architecture professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Kaz Yoneda Takram Design Engineering Tokyo Wheelwright proposal: Utopics of Cities: Amorphous Contemporaneity of Ideal. Kaz Yoneda is the founder of the Architecture and Space Design Unit at Takram Design Engineering
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Yesterday, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design officially announced the winner of the first Wheelwright Prize, a $100,000 traveling fellowship aimed at cultivating new forms of architectural research through cultural exchange. The jury awarded the fellowship to Gia Wolff, a Harvard graduate and Brooklyn-based architect, for her original proposal Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats. The young architect and professor, who currently leads her own practice, uniquely explored the cultural significance and design of the traditional parade float, which frequently transforms cities and brings people together during carnival festivals all throughout the world. The competition generated 231 submissions from 45 countries "The Wheelright Prize is about putting a voyage together in order to discover, and learn from, a particular architectural production somewhere distant in the world. Gia, whose work is all about imagination, has identified the parade float—in such cities as Rio de Janeiro, Nice, and Goa— as an ephemeral form of architecture both laden with cultural exuberance and remarkable for the communitarian organization it requires,” commented jury member Farès el-Dahdah in a statement. Applicants were asked to submit a portfolio of their work, a research proposal, as well as a detailed travel itinerary specifying exactly where, how, and what they intend to achieve with the $100,000 grant, which will fund 2 years of research. The competition stems from the Arthur Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, established in 1935, exclusively open to Harvard graduates, and awarded to distinguished architects like I.M Pei and Elliot Noyes. In keeping with the school’s commitment to the sharing and exchanging of ideas between countries, cultures, themes, and issues, the Wheelwright Prize was opened to early-career architects practicing all over the world.
The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced the appointment of Iñaki Ábalos as chair of the Department of Architecture. Ábalos is currently a Professor in Residence at the GSD where he has lead studios, lectures, and seminars grounded in technology and history,with a focus on the thermodynamics of architecture. As a founding member of both Ábalos + Sentkiewicz Arquitectos and Ábalos and Herraros, his work has focused on the intersection between architecture, technology, landscape, and culture. He will assume his new post July 1, replacing current chair Preston Scott Cohen. “The School will undoubtedly benefit from his deep intellectual commitment to the field of architecture as his passion as both an educator and an architect," said Moshen Mostavi, Dean of the GSD, in a statement. "I have no doubt that he will make great contributions to the culture of collaboration within the GSD and to the rest of the university." Ábalos received his masters and PhD in architecture from Superior Technical School of Architecture of Madrid at the Technical University of Madrid, where he went on to teach, eventually becoming Chaired Professor and Director of the Master in environmental and landscape studies. Ábalos has since held faculty positions at Federale Lausanne, Columbia University, Princeton University, Cornell University, and the Architectural Association. He has also written extensively on architecture, with works including Le Corbusier Skyscrapers, Tower and Office, Natural-Artificial, The Good Life, and Picturesque Atlas.
The annual Curry Stone Prize, which honors design for social change, has shaken up its awards program this year. Previously laurels went to a Grand Prize winner, leaving several teams as runners-up. But in recognition of Curry Stone's fifth cycle, this year five winners will equally share the prize, including a cash award of $25,000 each. Announced this week, the 2012 winners are: Center for Urban Pedagogy, aka CUP (Brooklyn, New York); Liter Of Light (Manila, Philippines); MASS Design (Boston, MA); Riwaq (Ramallah, Palestine); and Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam, Netherlands). Once again the Curry Stone Foundation has teamed up with Harvard's Graduate School of Design to create a larger educational event around the awards ceremony, which takes place at the GSD on November 15. The day following the winning teams will deliver presentations on their work and participate in panel discussions that are free and open to the public. Some winners will be familiar to those in the architecture and design world—MASS Design, for example, has received previous accolades and coverage for projects like the redesign of a hospital in the Burera District of Rwanda and has gone on to establish collaborations with NGOs—while other organizations have been initiating change at a local grassroots level: Brooklyn-based CUP facilitates communication on community issues by collaborating with artists and designers; Liter of Light offers inexpensive alternatives to electricity in informal settlements in the Philippines; Riwaq documents and preserves Palestinian culture through restoration projects; Jeanne Van Heeswijk gained attention for recasting derelict areas in Dutch cities into dynamic public spaces. Joseph Grima, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Teddy Cruz, and Clifford Curry, who founded the prize with Delight Stone in 2008, served as the 2012 jury. Read more about the five winners: CUP Liter of Light MASS Design Riwaq Jeanne van Heeswijk
Asensio_mah & Harvard's Graduate School of Design's moss-covered installation is architecture on the cellular levelWhen visitors stroll through Quebec's Redford Gardens, the first of many large installations they come upon is Surface Deep, an undulating, moss-covered structure designed by international architecture firm asensio_mah in collaboration with students from Harvard's Graduate School of Design. It was built last summer, but with this year's Metis International Garden Festival, Surface Deep is once again getting major foot traffic in the most literal sense of the word. Surface Deep is a mountable, climbable series of snaking panels that invites visitors to explore it in its entirety, from its long, sweeping form to its small, mossy nooks. The panels vary in height depending on their angle, but have a constant width of 0.5m. The plywood frame and the patterned overlays were made at the Harvard Graduate School of Design's Fabrication Laboratory over a two-week period using CNC milling, robotic water jet cutting and welding. White celltech plastic trays were constructed to house the moss substrate, which were then fixed within the plywood frame and covered with panels. The parts were shipped to Quebec and assembled on site with steel anchor plates. Once the team had an idea of the overall gesture of the installation, they worked with a local biologist, Suzanna Campeau at Bryophyta Technologies, to determine which species of mosses were best suited to the microclimates created by the varying orientations and lean of the individual panels. Some panels, for example, receive full sunlight while others are in constant shade. According to the students, "the first 11 units were made with Niphotrichum canescens (a sun-loving species), unit 12 is planted with Callicladium haldanianum while the other units remaining (13 to 22) were made with a mixture of Callicladium haldanianum and other shade-loving, forest species such as Pleurozium schreberii and Ptilium crista-castrensis." Campeau grew the moss on a geotextile, a permeable fabric often used with soil for erosion control or slope stabilization. The "moss textile" was then installed on a plywood substrate and into the panel system where it's held in place by the webbed overlay. The team used the cellular structure of moss as their design inspiration for the web-like panel pattern, though they have practical applications as well. The panels help with water retention, keep the moss protected and actually provide it with some shade, albeit on the micro level. It requires watering, but the overall maintenance is quite low. And though Surface Deep is not considered permanent, the installation will be kept in the park for several years to come.
Fifty-one years after his graduation the late Max Bond Jr.'s influence is once again felt in his alma mater, Harvard's Graduate School of Design. An exhibit and celebration of his life and work opened there on Monday September 14th and will run through October 18th. The exhibit takes a close look at Max Bond's personal life, his passion for social equity, and his professional design work. Bond made all three areas of his life inseparable. In an 1981 interview with Paul Broches in the Journal of Architectural Education he pronounced that "Progress means trying to improve the lot of the people in the world generally and to have architecture contribute toward that goal." The exhibit displays Bond's design work from Ghana to Harlem to Washington DC that shows what may be Max Bond's most important contribution, taking strongly held social ideals and turning them into built form. This posthumous lesson is specially timely for a class starting their design education in the midst of what many consider to be the worst economic down turn in over 80 years. Life and Works of J. Max Bond, Jr.: Practice, Education, and Activism September 14th-October 18th Related lecture: Max Bond, Multiculturalism, and Social Equity in the Built Environment October 2nd - 3:30PM Harvard University's Graduate School of Design
Kevin Greenberg sends us another insightful dispatch from Kenmare Street: Last Tuesday, the Storefront for Art and Architecture felt like a satellite campus of the GSD as Harvard students and other Cambridgians joined locals at the Storefront for a release party for the second issue of New Geographies, a doctoral student-edited periodical recently launched by the GSD’s Aga Khan Program. The editors of New Geographies, Neyran Turan and Stephan Ramos, told us that they had several meanings in mind when they chose the theme for the second issue. Titled “After Zero,” the issue centers on the slippery idea of a “zero point." The editors cite zero carbon and “zero context” urban developments (or “cities from scratch”) as contemporary examples that force designers to question design methodologies and justifications. Nothing makes for compelling architectural discourse like a nice, open-ended theme. The zero in question might be seen as a tabula rasa from which to proceed, but it’s also a means of marking a significant event. In the context of the current climate, zero is also a code word for crisis. How should architects and designers re-frame interventions after the global economic downturn, in an age when the glitzy mega-developments that grew like crystals in the Persian Gulf suddenly seem like relics of a recently bygone age? What kind of models for future urbanism can we realistically project? These are among the questions that interest the journal’s editors and contributors. You have to hand it to them, too: “After Zero” is a handsome, considered object. Design duties were handled by NYC-based Thumb, who also manage graphic design for Princeton Architectural Press’s 306090, and they do a great job presenting articles from a host of notables, including Keller Easterling, Joseph Grima and Peter Hall. While a few contributors chose to focus on the bizarre urbanism of the Persian Gulf, the “geographies” analyzed really range in their scope and locale from the arctic to Africa, from China to goode olde Europe. Matthew Gandy’s article on French landscape architect Gilles Clement’s “paradise of weeds,” for example, is an interesting interpretation of the issue’s theme and will seem timely to anyone who’s recently visited the High Line. Turan and Ramos were on hand Tuesday to briefly present the new volume, and Harvard professor Hashim Sarkis offered a few words both on the significance of some of the nascent issues that are the theme of “After Zero” and of New Geographies itself. Sarkis gave a little insight into yet another shade of meaning of the “zero” in the volume’s title: It’s a nod to the survival of the journal itself. The inaugural issue of New Geographies, released last year, was numbered zero. Since, as Sarkis noted, many student-run publications start with the first issue and end with the first issue, the release of “After Zero” is cause for celebration indeed. Afterwards the audience sipped prosecco and queued up to purchase copies of the journal, which quickly sold out.
The announcement that Rem Koolhaas would be the keynote speaker for the “Ecological Urbanism” conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), which took place over three days last weekend, raised eyebrows, especially among sustainability-minded architects, landscape architects, and planners. Koolhaas had never shown any particular interest in the subject, and the fire at his TVCC Tower in Beijing was interpreted by many as a symbol of an era that had come to an end, ushering in more sustainable and responsible practices. Those of us who admire and respect his projects, but also believe that our profession needs to go green to adapt to the 21st century, were hoping his speech would redeem his formerly blasé attitude toward sustainability and provide some clarification of why this seemingly odd choice for a keynote was made. No such luck. Despite the disappointing keynote speech, charged with needless attacks against talented colleagues, including Renzo Piano and Norman Foster, and no definitive resolution as to what Ecological Urbanism is or should be, the conference added provocative ideas to the discourse on sustainable architecture and planning. Along with the usual urban farms, solar panels, wind farms, and bioswales, there were innovative proposals that advocated for changes in technological and programmatic aspects of the profession, from Mitchell Joachim’s radical houses made of meat and compact electric transportation systems presented by MIT’s William Mitchell to proposals for highrise cemeteries and prisons in the middle of Manhattan by Spanish architect Inaki Abalos. Probably one of the most enlightening talks, stripped from the glamour of sci-fi technologies or sexy images, was the breakout session on informal cities in Latin America led by Christian Werthmann, Associate Professor and Program Director at the Department of Landscape Architecture at the GSD. He conducts what he calls “dirty work,” a research initiative on upgrading informal cities. Despite the region’s slowing growth rate, lessons can be learned from the formation of favelas, barrios, or shantytowns. “The world has entered the urban millennium. Half the world's people now live in cities and towns. That in itself marks a historic transition,” said then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, according to a 2005 UN-Habitat report. “But what will happen over the next 30 years is just as significant. According to United Nations projections, virtually all of the world's population growth will occur in the urban areas of low- and middle-income countries. How we manage that growth will go a long way toward influencing the world's future peace and prosperity.” Werthmann told AN: “There are two fields of operation regarding informal settlements. One is to retrofit existing informal cities, and the other is how do you control or guide the future of informal cities.” In Latin America, there are examples like Brazil, where the government provides informal cities with communal infrastructure: water, electricity, health, sewage, and roads. But there are no comprehensive strategies. Other approaches involve community endeavors and grassroots movements. But how can cities prepare for this to create healthier communities? “That is a harder task. Nobody wants to give away their own land so people can build on it,” he said. Favelas and slums have received a lot of attention in movies like City of God and Slumdog Millionaire, in which they are depicted as unsanitary and dangerous places. But there is more to them than violence and disease. Interestingly enough slums have many of the qualities that make thriving cities frequently promoted by urban planners: They are pedestrian-friendly, high-density, mixed-use, and made of recycled materials, usually debris from adjacent formal cities. “American and European cities could learn from these informal settlements as an example for low-rise, high-density development. They have an intensive street life, the public space is not much but well used, as opposed to the suburban model, which is completely inefficient,” Werthmann said. “There is a need for an in-between model, that is not the highrise of Manhattan or Sao Paulo.” The overall sentiment of the conference was that urban living is the most sustainable way to live, so it was interesting that the counterpart of retrofitting shantytowns—fixing suburbia—didn’t come up. It would have been nice to see more ideas like that and less of distant, zero-carbon cities for a privileged few, like Foster’s Masdar project in Abu Dhabi.