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Call for Submissions: Harvard University Graduate School of Design 2017 Wheelwright Prize


January 9, 2017
by Canadian Architect

Jose Ahedo, 2014 Wheelwright Prize winner, spent the past 2 years traveling to eight countries on four continents, to study the organizational structures of animal farming.

Jose Ahedo, 2014 Wheelwright Prize winner, spent the past 2 years traveling to eight countries on
four continents, to study the organizational structures of animal farming.

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) has announced the fifth cycle of the Wheelwright Prize, an open international competition that awards $100,000 annually to a talented early-career architect to support travel-based research.

The 2017 Wheelwright Prize is now accepting applications. Deadline for submissions is January 31, 2017. This annual prize is dedicated to fostering new forms of architectural research informed by cross-cultural engagement.

The Wheelwright Prize is open to emerging architects practicing anywhere in the world. The primary eligibility requirement is that applicants must have received a degree from a professionally accredited architecture program in the past 15 years (after 2002). Applicants are asked to submit a portfolio, a research proposal, and a travel itinerary that takes them outside their country of residence. Applicants will be judged on the quality of their design work, scholarly accomplishments, originality and persuasiveness of their research proposal, and evidence of ability to fulfill the proposed project.  

In 2013, Harvard GSD revamped the Arthur W. Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, which was established in 1935 in memory of Wheelwright, Class of 1887. The original fellowship was intended to encourage the study of architecture outside the United States, giving outstanding GSD alumni a classic Grand Tour experience at a time when international travel was rare. In the 81-year history of the prize, fellows have included Paul Rudolph, Eliot Noyes, William Wurster, Christopher Tunnard, I. M. Pei, Klaus Herdeg, Farès el-Dahdah, Adele Santos, and Linda Pollak. The new Wheelwright Prize invites architects to imagine a Grand Tour for the 21st century, to propose travel itineraries propelled by a compelling research agenda.

“The overwhelming response to the prize reflects the strong desire of an emerging generation of architects to push the boundaries of the profession,” remarked Harvard GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi. “Having reviewed hundreds of applications from around the world, it’s clear that young architects everywhere are interested in alternative practices tied to a global spectrum of political, social, cultural, and environmental concerns.”

An international jury will be announced this January. Standing members of the Wheelwright Prize Organizing Committee include Dean Mostafavi and Professor K. Michael Hays. In addition to the cash purse of $100,000, Wheelwright Prize winners are invited to participate in the GSD’s renowned lecture series. On Thursday, November 17, the 2014 winner Jose Ahedo will present his research project, Domesticated Grounds: Design and Domesticity Within Animal Farming Systems. The lecture will take place in Gund Hall’s Piper Auditorium (48 Quincy Street, Cambridge), and is free and open to the public. Ahedo, founder of Studio Ahedo in Barcelona, has spent the past two years, logging 8,300 miles on visits to eight countries on four continents, meeting over 200 farmers, scholars, policymakers, and others involved in animal farming. The lecture will be live-streamed. (Click here for the link.)

Previous Wheelwright Prize winners include:

  • 2016, Anna Puigjaner, Barcelona (BArch 2004, MArch 2008 and PhD 2014, Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona-Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya), for her proposal to study collective housing models in Russia, Brazil, Sweden, China, Korea, and India, and their varied approaches to organizing domestic spaces; click here to view the presentations of 2016 finalists including Samuel Bravo (Santiago, Chile), Matilde Cassani (Milan), and Pierpaolo Tamburelli (Milan).
  • 2015, Erik L’Heureux, Singapore (BArch 1996, Washington University in St. Louis, and MArch 2000, Princeton University), for his proposal to study architecture in five dense cities in the equatorial zone; click here to view the presentations of 2015 finalists including Malkit Shoshan (Amsterdam) and Quynh Vantu (London).
  • 2014, Jose M. Ahedo, Barcelona (BArch 2005, Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de la Universitat de Catalunya), for his research on the architecture and organization of structures related to animal farming.
  • 2013, Gia Wolff, Brooklyn (MArch 2008, Harvard GSD), for her study of the spectacular, temporary, urban-scale float structures that transform Rio de Janeiro during carnival. Click here for the link to her GSD lecture.

Applications are accepted online only, at wheelwrightprize.org. Finalists for the 2017 prize will be invited to present at Harvard GSD in April 2017, and a winner will named shortly thereafter.