July 13, 2010
by Canadian Architect
Toronto architecture firm Lateral Office is the winner of the $50,000 Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture for 2010. Administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, this award recognizes excellent achievement in Canadian architectural practice.
Lateral Office’s founding partners, Lola Sheppard and Mason White, will use the prize funds to travel to the Arctic to pursue their research proposal entitled Emergent North. The travel research continues an ongoing investigation and documentation of cold-climate settlement forms, issues, and vernacular innovations in the circumpolar region. Emergent North looks at the challenges and opportunities of the public realm, civic space, landscape, and infrastructure emerging from a unique geography. Sheppard and White will conduct two travel routes through Nunavut, Yukon, and Northwest Territories, as well as Alaska and Greenland, to gather first-hand knowledge and documentation of Far Northern settlements. This research will inform a series of ongoing design projects responding to social, political, economic and ecological issues confronting the far north.
The Professional Prix de Rome in Architecture is awarded to a young architect or practitioner of architecture, an architecture firm or an architectural design firm that has completed its first buildings and demonstrated exceptional artistic potential. The prize, established in 1987, allows the winners to travel to other parts of the world to hone their skills, develop their creative practice and strengthen their presence in international architecture culture. The project can involve multiple trips to a number of destinations, spread over a two-year period.
Lateral Office was selected by a peer assessment committee appointed by the Canada Council, which included Monica Adair (Saint John, NB), George Baird (Toronto), Bruce Haden (Vancouver), Serena Keshavjee (Winnipeg) and Pierre Thibault (Sillery, Quebec).
The jury members said, “Lateral Office shines in their ability to engage in a conversation that moves across architecture, landscape design and through all scales of intervention, including urbanism, regional and even national infrastructure planning. The issues they address remained outside of the architectural imagination for too long; their decision to focus on research and share their findings will make it possible for a broad community of actors to engage in the search for appropriate solutions.”
Founded in 2003, Lateral Office is an experimental design-research studio that operates at the intersection of landscape, architecture and urbanism. The studio is committed to design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions within our contemporary condition. Lateral Office seeks direct engagement with the difficult questions of contemporary urbanism, the public realm and infrastructures demonstrated through design competitions, publications and exhibitions.
Born in Montreal and based in Toronto, Lola Sheppard is an architect, writer, and educator as well as a member of the Ordre des architectes du Québec. She is Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture where she conducts studios on the intersections between landscape and architecture. She received her Bachelor of Architecture from McGill University in 1995 and Master of Architecture II from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2001. Sheppard is a founding partner of Lateral Office (2003) and a founding director of InfraNet Lab (2008). She has several years work experience in Rotterdam, Paris, Boston, and London, England. She is the recipient of the 2005 Young Architects Forum Award from the Architectural League of New York. She is an editor of Twenty + Change 01 (Riverside Press, 2009), Twenty + Change 02 (Riverside Press, 2009), and co-author of Coupling: Strategies of Infrastructural Opportunism (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).
Mason White is an architect, writer, and educator born in Washington, DC and based in Toronto. He is Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design where he conducts studios on the intersections between infrastructure and architecture. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech in 1996 and Master of Architecture II from Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2001. White is also a founding partner of Lateral Office and a founding director of InfraNet Lab. He has several years of work experience in New York, Boston, and London, England. He was the Arthur W. Wheelwright Fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Design 2008-09, and the recipient of the 2005 Young Architects Forum Award from the Architectural League of New York. He is a co-editor of Bracket 1: On Farming (Actar, 2010) and co-author of Coupling: Strategies of Infrastructural Opportunism (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010).