In the natural world, adaptation is a competitive advantage. Yet the built environment is frequently characterized by rigid typologies and inflexible designs. How can buildings keep pace with changing cultures and contexts?
In “Adaptation,” the 2016 James Harrison Steedman Fellowship in Architecture call for research proposals, early-career architects are challenged to explore how flexibility and adaptive response might be better incorporated into the design process. The winning research proposal will receive $50,000 to support up to a year of international travel and research.
“The theme is meant as a provocation,” says Steedman Governing Committee member Patty Heyda, LEED AP, assistant professor of architecture in architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts in Washington University in St. Louis, which organizes the fellowship in concert with AIA St. Louis.
“It’s a way of helping to frame proposals, but also can be broadly applied,” Heyda adds. “Accessibility, sustainability, building technology, historic preservation, climate change, social and demographic tensions — these are all areas that can be examined through the lens of adaptation, as well as concerns that are relevant in St. Louis and globally.”
Established in 1926, the biennial Steedman Fellowship is one of the oldest and most prestigious architectural awards in the United States. Seeking to promote both creative design thinking and cross-cultural exchange, the fellowship is open to practicing architects worldwide — not just those affiliated with the Sam Fox School — who have received an accredited degree in architecture within the last eight years.
“Part of being an architect is seeking to understand the relationship between the work one produces as a design professional and its impact on greater issues facing society,” says committee member David Polzin, AIA, LEED AP, design principal of CannonDesign, St. Louis. “The Steedman Fellowship gives emerging professionals the time and space to formulate an in-depth response to a particular thematic concern. It allows them to research a question out in the world; the promise of the Steedman is that the answer will have a meaningful and significant impact on our community and beyond.”
Application materials will include a portfolio, research proposal, budget and timeframe. Fellows must be able to complete their projects within 18 months of receiving the award, and must be available afterwards to share their research with the Washington University and St. Louis AIA architectural communities.
The jury is chaired by Mason White — a founding co-principal (with Lola Sheppard) of Lateral Office in Toronto — who developed this year’s theme. The full jury will be announced later this summer. Registration will open June 1. Proposals are due November 1. For more information, visit https://steedmanfellowship.wustl.edu.