Fellowship

Buell Graduate Fellowships are annual awards available to Columbia University students for historical research on the built environment, including but not limited to architecture, urbanism, landscape, and the building sciences.

Buell Center Research and Teaching Fellowships are intended to give recently graduated postdoctoral fellows a chance to advance their own research, gain teaching experience, and take part in the ongoing intellectual life of the Buell Center, the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), and Columbia University—over the course of twenty-one months (two academic years and one intervening summer). Fellows will be co-hosted by the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities.

Prize

Annually between 2017 and 2020, three prizes were awarded to students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation whose fall semester architectural design (MArch & AAD) studio projects most successfully complied with, interpreted, and/or critically extended the terms and spirit of the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, calls for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

The Catherine Hoover Voorsanger Writing Prizes were generously endowed by Voorsanger and Associates, Architects. Each prize was given at the end of the academic year for an outstanding paper on a subject in American architecture, landscape or urbanism written during the academic year. One prize was awarded to a student in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; the other was to awarded to a graduate student in the Department of Art History or to an undergraduate at Columbia or Barnard College for a senior thesis. Each prize carried an honorarium of $250.

Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, calls for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

2024 Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

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OVERVIEW

Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore issuing, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis—especially as it intersects with calls for environmental and racial justice—can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society in the midst of a global pandemic as it continues to grapple with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

This prize was begun as part of a Buell Center project entitled “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which sought critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. It is being continued in conversation with ongoing research on "Architecture and Land in and out of the Americas." This plural, Americas, helps decenter the concept of "American Architecture" in two ways: by connecting building practices across the Western Hemisphere, and by recognizing that there are several Americas within the United States. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in the Americas today.



2024 WINNER

Climate | Material | Shelter
Elizabeth Golden & Marc Neveu, University of Washington & Arizona State University 
 

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(Image: Students making compressed earth blocks in Scottsdale, AZ)


Maricopa County is one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the United States. It is also an area facing the distinct prospect of becoming uninhabitable by the end of this century due to extreme heat. As populations and global temperatures increase, sustainable solutions for housing are becoming ever more critical. This is made even more urgent as international manufacturing and supply chains continue to be disrupted and fuel prices reach record levels. In contrast to the ubiquitous stick frame construction in the region, earthen structures provide a buffer against outdoor temperature fluctuations; earth’s capacity to absorb, store, and radiate heat tempers indoor ambient environments. Early inhabitants, such as the Ancestral Sonoran Desert People, and later Spanish missionaries, relied on these properties to shelter from the harsh climate of the Sonoran Desert.

The course will advance the University of Washington and Arizona State University’s mission to leverage place, enable student success, and transform society through use-inspired research. Students and faculty from both programs at the University of Washington and Arizona State University will collaborate through in-person visits and virtual meetings and reviews. This proposal is the first of a multi-year, research studio that will explore how earth-based construction (compressed earth block) might be leveraged for sustainable urban development (housing) in the Phoenix metropolitan region. Each year the studio is offered will be organized according to scale – the scale of a wall, the scale of a family, and the scale of a community. Year one will include material testing; Year two will incorporate construction faculty and students; and in Year three students will work with Real Estate faculty and students to develop an economic model in parallel with an architectural proposal. Knowledge and data will be cumulative, with each studio learning and building from the previous year’s investigations.

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Demystifying Ecological Thinking in Architecture 
Ehsan Sheikholharam, Kennesaw State University
 

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[Image Credit: Children playing at the Arcadia, Education Project by Saif Ul Haque Sthapati, Bangladesh. Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Sandro di Carlo Darsa (photographer)]


What critical tools do architects have to distinguish equitable and environmentally-just developments from greenwashing? How to shield our practices from the interests of Big Tech, Big Oil, and Big Development in making us believe that smart cities and other technocratic utopias are all good, without also turning into cynics or technophobes? How might architects—whose principal vocation is to build—reconcile with ecologists’ call for degrowth? This upper-level, interdisciplinary seminar offers theoretical grounds for rethinking ecological architecture. The course offers diverse critical perspectives on the ambiguities of green development, the place of human agency in altering Earth’s processes, and the possibility of infinite growth.

The syllabus revolves around three sections: the myth of return, the myth of control, and the myth of (liberal) democracy. The course begins by questioning romanticized visions of an idyllic, preindustrial past. Instead, we explore diverse civilizational genealogies and mythologies on the relationship between the human animal and its environment. The next section highlights the connection between the desire for subjugation, hypermasculinity, coloniality, and privatization. The final cluster underlines the tension between the collective needs of the planet and its precarious inhabitants—whether subaltern communities, climate refugees, or endangered species—with identity-based demands for recognition and rights.

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Local Repair Ecologies 
Cynthia Deng & Lucas Hoops, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Querétaro campus

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(Image: Secondhand tools for sale at a tianguis market.)

 

Lifting up alternatives to linear “take, make, use, waste” models of growth, this course expands on the idea that regions and neighborhoods have distinctive ‘repair ecologies’ (as coined by scholar Steven Jackson) or local systems of repair, improvisation, and material recirculation. In the case of Querétaro, existing everyday practices are sites of possibility and distributed creativity: roving metal collector trucks, swap groups, material banks, street markets, mutual aid networks, repair clubs, archipelagos of urban gardens, marches for water rights… Might architects and designers recognize these circularity and solidarity practices as signals of a future to come, growing through the cracks in current extractive economic regimes?
 

Working alongside organizers of various repair networks and community-led initiatives, this interdisciplinary course explores the possibilities of repair as a point of creative departure and builds an open-source atlas of local repair ecologies. Here, ‘repair’ does not seek to restore past conditions, but adapts to future ones — it is a transformative act of care that ranges from mending things and spaces to reparations and ecological repair. In the research seminar students begin with fieldwork, dialogue, drawing, and mapping. We try to make visible the political and social relationships, the spaces, and the material flows that define Querétaro’s distinctive repair ecologies. The studio then asks how architecture can participate in and build on-within-among these intertwined networks of collective care throughout the city, toward reparative futures and new economies.

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Collective Comfort II
Liz Gálvez, University of California, Berkeley
 

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(Image Credit: Cité Climatisée, from Air Architecture, 1961, Yves Klein. Drawing for a city protected by a wall of air and inhabitants welcoming an immaterial world.)
 

American desert cities designed and built at the turn of the century, in collaboration with the advent of air-conditioning technologies, have been able to house millions of Americans by relying primarily on fossil-fuels to supply relief from extreme hot weather. The Phoenix Metro Area, or The Valley of The Sun as it is known to locals, experienced 145 days reaching temperatures over 100˚F in 2020 according to the National Weather Service. In July of 2023, Phoenix set a new record with 31 days strait of over 110-degree heat. The increased probability of a longer-lasting heat-wave, combined with the over demand of electrical power supply during extreme weather events can be catastrophic, especially to the most vulnerable communities. Today, municipal government, local communities, and grass roots organizations, coupled with environmental researchers in the Phoenix Metro Area have taken note of the risks that heat poses to human livelihoods and are working to develop cooling centers as strategy to deal with heat insecurity.

To address equitable-cooling in relationship with an over-reliance on private mechanical, electrically powered air-conditioning technologies, the course sequence aims to develop a public program that re-thinks the cooling center through the combined re-creation of new social dynamics and new environmentalisms that foreground community resilience through collectivity in desert cities. Working collaboratively with design and building science faculty, students will explore the gap between architectural and environmental thinking to develop conceptual, critical, and evocative, yet possible building proposals that address collective comfort.


Download the Winning Course

 

 

2023 Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

 

OVERVIEW


Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore issuing, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis—especially as it intersects with calls for environmental and racial justice—can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society in the midst of a global pandemic as it continues to grapple with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

This prize was begun as part of a Buell Center project entitled “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which sought critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. It is being continued in conversation with ongoing research on "Architecture and Land in and out of the Americas." This plural, Americas, helps decenter the concept of "American Architecture" in two ways: by connecting building practices across the Western Hemisphere, and by recognizing that there are several Americas within the United States. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in the Americas today.

 

2023 WINNERS

Over-exposed: Ultraviole(n) Shade in the Borderland
Ersela Kripa & Stephen Mueller, Texas Tech University

Concentric circles of pink and green radiate out from a domed structure in this line drawing
(Image Credit: Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure Mapping; Image Credit: POST–Project for Operative Spatial Technologies)

 

A large and growing population in the binational El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metroplex faces high levels of ultraviolet radiation exposure, even within shaded conditions in public space. The course coordinators’ ongoing investigative research has detailed the inequitable and asymmetric distribution of public shade amenities, ultraviolet radiation, and negative health impacts in the region. Leveraging their development of custom computational toolsets to visualize and mitigate areas of “irradiated shade” in the borderland, this vertical architectural design studio will work to propose new strategies and design methodologies for safe public shade.

Course readings and discussions will engage students in issues of transboundary health, ecology, and governance strategies and concerns, as well as foundational knowledge in theories of environmental justice, and spatial justice. The course will provide the infrastructure, computational environmental analysis, and computational design methodology for students to design and prototype novel radiation-mitigating architectural assemblies. Students will produce architectural and urban designs of computationally-informed, radiation-aware public shade structures, designing models and prototypes to enact regional transformations. The course is informed by and punctuated with focused conversations with interdisciplinary experts and community partners through a parallel studio seminar.

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Unequal Cartographies: Mapping Climate Change in Appalachia
Miranda Shugars, Virginia Tech

An infographic indicates the proximity of industry to non-White homes
 

Unequal Cartographies will investigate relationships between historically-rooted inequalities and climate change impacts today using free, open-source mapping tools. Students will visualize complex urban issues using GIS (geographic information systems; i.e., digital mapping). The class will discuss how discriminatory government practices have relegated people to ecologically vulnerable areas, how health impacts of heat and pollution disproportionately impact historically-marginalized people, and how the ecological crises we now collectively face stem partly from deeply-rooted social ills.

While lectures and readings will introduce a range of social mapping theory and history, the tutorials, examples, and final projects will focus on three Appalachian cities: Richmond, VA, Roanoke, VA, and Charleston, WV. Each city has distinctive histories of redlining and urban renewal which are clear in their physical footprints and social-ecological inequalities today. Tutorials will cover the basics of finding and evaluating data, representing data sets in GIS, and crafting data-based arguments with maps. In their final projects, students will create interactive scrollymaps that present research on a social-environmental inequality in one of the three focus cities. This format will demonstrate the class’s two major learning goals: technical mapping skills and constructing visual arguments through maps.

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Resilient Futures: Reimagining Habitation in Energy Country
Angela Person & Stephanie Pilat, University of Oklahoma

This black and white image shows canvas tent visible through a barbed-wire fence, with a crouched figure washing in the foreground.
(Image Credit: Housing for Oklahoma refugees. California. 1936. Dorothea Lange. New York Public Library. CC 1.0 Universal Public Domain.)

 

The University of Oklahoma is located in what might be called Energy Country, one of the largest oil-and-gas producing regions in the US, and at the crossroads of the economic activity of the contiguous United States. Meanwhile, Energy Country is situated within Tornado Alley, an area of the U.S. with a higher-than-average frequency of severe weather events. Furthermore, this area is among the most popular for resettling refugees, due to its number of faith-based nonprofits. This confluence of critical energy infrastructure, climate and weather-related vulnerabilities, and enthusiasm for accepting refugees establishes Energy Country as an important case study for imagining resilient habitation strategies that consider climate change and migration from an environmental justice perspective. Taking this into account, the Resilient Futures class asks: “How might architects, scientists, artists, and activists partner to creatively and critically address the pressing need to reimagine habitation amid a changing climate in Energy Country?” To answer this question, the structure of the course fosters collaborative proposals designed to bring interdisciplinary knowledge to bear on facets of this complex challenge. This course is designed for upper-division undergraduate students and graduate students in architecture, environmental sustainability, engineering, political science urban studies, geography, cultural anthropology, and related disciplines.

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Territorial Imaginaries | Geopolitics, Infrastructure, and Ecology
Carla Aramouny & Sandra Frem, American University of Beirut

A grey and blue, data-heavy map shows "transit and transport" information in the Port of Beirut. Text radiates out from the center, overlaid on a map of the area.
(Image Credit: ARCH 015 Fall 2021 – Student work: Myriam Abou Adal, Samer Abboud, Marc Faysal, Regina Khaled)

 

Territorial Imaginaries is a research teaching lab developed through a design studio and dedicated seminar course, centralizing the urgency of the climate crisis through readings and speculations linking geopolitics, ecology, and infrastructure to the shaping of territorial conditions. It triggers investigations in the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa), from Lebanon to the Arabian Gulf, looking at specific contemporary situations where politics created economies of resource extraction, with infrastructures that had direct and indirect ecological repercussions on their expanded environments and territorial configurations. The lab highlights the role of visualization and mapping as investigative tools that help construct and narrate otherwise abstract and disconnected situations. By visualizing the ecological footprint of infrastructure and the geopolitics behind them, the course places agency in the design field to help expose the eco-realities of our world and speculate on alternative potentials for the built environment. The lab also crosses scales of impact, looking at both macro manifestations to micro interventions that can help reverse or critique the eco-political situation through applied design methods.

Design Studio: ARCH 305/407 Vertical Studio (Thematic option studio for 3rd/4th year
architecture students)
Seminar / Elective: ARCH 015 Visualizing Infrastructure (advanced representation elective for 3rd / 4th/ 5th year architecture students)

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Archipelagic Estates of Puerto Rico: Islands and Island Culture in Light of Climate Change
Pedro Cruz Cruz & Nandini Bagchee, The City College of New York

This image shows an urban area that seems to have once hosted industrial activity but is now largely covered in vegetation. A more densely built area is visible in the background.

 

In the Caribbean archipelago of Puerto Rico, ecological entanglements have long carried the weight of imperialism and environmental colonialism. Amidst growing threats of rampant privatization, real estate speculation, and climate induced migration we propose to examine Puerto Rico’s extractive past and current economic precarity to speculate upon an alternate future. We will use the critical tools of architectural drawing and modelling while engaging in a dialog with an interdisciplinary cohort of anthropologists, environmental scientists, and spatial practitioners.  Drawing from a network of local and diasporic coalitions, the research will build upon the work of grassroots organizers and institutions connected to the southern geography of Puerto Rico. This region, once the center of agro-industrial production, is now the locus of polluting coal and gas power plants. The ongoing colonial status of Puerto Rico and lack of democratic representation has generated a resilient culture of self-organization and survival through mutual aid in the marginalized communities of southern Puerto Rico. Imagining a post-carbon, post-colonial future shaped in solidarity with a coastal community will be the agenda for our research-based architectural studio at the Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY, CUNY.

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HONORABLE MENTION
 

Liquid Ecologies: Water, Land, and Oil in the Gulf of Mexico
Daniel Jacobs, University of Houston

A map, richly colored in oranges, yellows, and light blues, shows the varying soil types that surround the Gulf of Mexico.
(Image Credit: Detail of the FAO/UNESCO Soil Map of the World, Mexico and Central America, Sheet III, 1972.)

 

The Gulf of Mexico is a rich assemblage of atmospheric anomalies and political currents, material streams and petrochemical pipelines, pre-colonial ghosts and post-colonial violence, diverse diasporas and varied eco-regions. It is a world dislocated by borders and embargos, transected by shipping lanes and language, and unified by climate crises and tourism. Learning with practices and ethics across the region, the advanced topic studio Liquid Ecologies: Land, Water, and Oil in the Gulf of Mexico will document these conditions that unite and divide the Gulf in order to reimagine new associations within and across this vital landscape.

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A panel discussion with the winners, moderated by Buell Center Associate Director Jacob R. Moore, was held at the ACSA's 111th Annual Meeting in St. Louis on Thursday, March 30th.

 

 

2022 Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

 

OVERVIEW

Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize technological solutions alone can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore issuing, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis—especially as it intersects with demands for environmental and racial justice—can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society in the midst of a global pandemic as it continues to grapple with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

This proposal originated as a part of “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which sought critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. Objects of intense political, social, and economic contestation, technical infrastructures distribute power in both senses of the word: as energy and as force. Concentrating on the United States but extending internationally, “Power: Infrastructure in America” opens overlapping windows onto how “America” is constructed infrastructurally to exclude neighbors and to divide citizens. But infrastructures can also connect. Organized in a modular fashion as an open access resource for learning, teaching, and acting, the contents of the project website enable visitors to better understand the complex webs of power shaping our lives and the lives of others. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in America today. Change begins with connecting the dots.

 

2022 WINNERS

Environmental Justice (EJ) + Health + Decarbonization
Nea Maloo, Howard University

A diagram of four drawn buildings, escalating from "Typical Building" to "EJ+Health+Decarbonized Building"
(Image Credit: BDLA, Stanford University, modified by Nea Maloo)

 

The Environmental Justice (EJ) + Health + Decarbonization will be a new inter-disciplinary course in the College of Engineering and Architecture, Howard University, for architects, engineers, and environmental studies major students. The course aims to put sustainable building practice at the center of environmental health, justice, and social equity. This course is intended to equip the students with the knowledge of building decarbonization and environmental justice, to be the future leaders in sustainability.

Globally, the embodied carbon emissions from the building sector alone produce 11% of global emissions and has huge impact on the environment. It is also evident that climate change has differing social, economic, health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged populations. Under the broad umbrella of climate justice, the inter-disciplinary education will offer an overview of the use of technology tools, including the energy simulation modeling, collected data, healthy building material and design approaches in architectural design. Additionally, the students will learn theory and practice of building decarbonization as foundational approach to environmental justice. The goal is to design buildings with holistic strategies with Decarbonization and healthy building material which promotes the climate justice within the architecture profession to the broader local and global community.

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Decommodifying Ownership 
Janette Kim, Brendon Levitt, & James Graham, California College of the Arts

project diagram showing a block with multiple types of housing units

(Image Credit: Carlos Garcia and Yue Liu, project diagram for the Reframing Property studio taught by Janette Kim, fall 2021.)

Decommodifying Ownership is a proposed cluster of coordinated courses at the Architecture Division at California College of the Arts that bridges across design studio, building technology, and history and theory curriculum streams in the B.Arch, M.Arch and Master of Advanced Architectural Design programs. These three courses will reflect on colonial legacies of dispossession instituted by the enclosure of land and the dislocation of the byproducts of extractive economies. In response, they will ask how the decommodification and commoning of land and resources can recapture energy, water, materials, and nutrients—all to sustain regenerative economies in communities whose labor and knowledge have long been mined for the creation of wealth. These courses will highlight their own unique methodologies—with an emphatic belief that each curricular track is a site for both conceptual and pragmatic investigations—while identifying sites for cross-pollination. In this way, the goal is to model speculative, new techniques for interdisciplinary architectural practice that is ever-more critical in the face of climate change.

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Mono-Poly-Dollar
Lindsey Krug, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Sarah Aziz, University of Colorado Denver

An aerial topographical photograph with red points, primarily clustered on the eastern half of the continent

(Image: Ana Sandoval and Michelle Barrett)

Mono-Poly-Dollar is an interdisciplinary research and design studio, operating at both the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the University of Colorado Denver (CUD), that uses Dollar General Corp (DG), the largest and most influential of the American dollar store triumvirate – Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General – to examine the country’s environmental, economic, and racial fault lines, and highlight the understudied small-box vernacular typology as a weapon of discourse and agent of climate activism.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Denver, Colorado are geographically poised to document the distribution of Dollar General’s presence in the U.S. as they trisect the drastic gradient from the densely populated DG-landscape of the American East, Midwest and South, to the sparsely populated DG-landscape of the American West. The course requires students to address the subject matter neutrally and arrive at socio-spatial positions and projections by traveling to a cross-section of the 17,000+ DG stores and distribution centers across the country and see firsthand how the retail empire affects large-scale commercial practices and mom-and-pop-corner-shop small-scale domestic realities.

Given its geographic scope, even a small shift in the invasive dollar store’s response to the climate crisis can have a large impact, and by critiquing the organization’s commercial, agricultural, and architectural strategies, students propose ways DG can provide an antidote to the silent crisis they contribute to.

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Deep Geologies: Material Encounters in Texas
Brittany Utting, Rice University

A photograph of a dry landscape and blue sky with clouds; in the distance are stacks of green pipes

(Image Credit: Victoria Sambunaris – Untitled (Pipes), Monahans, Texas – 2012)

Geology is a conception of the planet’s surface as thick, resource-rich, and energy-latent, forming slowly in the “deep time” of the earth. Laced within its dense layers of rock and shifting plates, the crust contains the raw materials and carbon fuels of the technosphere: bands of iron ore, veins of mineral deposits, seams of coal, and vast fields of oil.

Our everyday worlds are sourced from these geologies—fracking, cracking, mining, drilling, processing, and burning—feeding a supply chain essential to the production and powering of the built environment. Critically, the materials themselves have specific qualities and attitudes, producing a complex infrastructure of capital, energy, and heat. Yet while these geologies constitute the substructure of carbon modernity—determining its urban scales, circulatory flows, and organizational forms—they also devastate landscapes, bodies, and climates.

Deploying spatial and material tactics to intercede in these extractive processes, this studio seeks to trouble the persistence and durability of the hydrocarbon toward a deeper conception of geology: a planetary assemblage of landscapes, ecologies, organisms, technologies, and atmospheres. Learning from Anna L. Tsing’s concept of the “liveliness” of materials, Deep Geologies looks to the entanglement of extraction and the built environment to imagine new architectures for terrestrial care. Working in the context of Texas, this studio imagines how architecture can participate in a just transition to a post-carbon future, asking how the built world can more radically engage with agendas for environmental justice and geological repair.

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Acclimatizing to Heat in a Legacy City: Urban Heat Islands, Segregation and Social Connections in Toledo, Ohio
Yong Huang & Andreas Luescher, Bowling Green State University
Sujata Shetty, University of Toledo

A series of maps and a graph that visualize changes in heat over time

(Image: Toledo Green Spaces and Heat Island Analysis)

Climate change in Toledo, Ohio once a thriving part of the constellation of cities supporting Detroit’s auto industry, is already noticeable through an increase in average air temperatures, with predictions that they will continue rising (City of Toledo, 2021). Region-wide, climate change is projected to increase the risk, intensity and duration of temperature extremes and that has certainly been true in the city as well (GCA, 2020). One major contributor to these prolonged high temperatures are Urban Heat Islands (UHIs), urban areas that are significantly warmer than their surroundings chiefly because of concentrated heat emitted from the built environment, vehicles, and industrial land uses. As in other old industrial cities, Toledo’s urban areas suffering from the heat island effect are expected to be most affected by heatwaves, putting the city’s low-income and elderly residents most at risk.

The proposed interdisciplinary seminar and studio will focus on the intersection between heat events and the structure of the City of Toledo, socio-economic and physical. The main question we ask is: how can heat mitigation architecture and planning interventions further social equity? Our aim is to examine the connection of nature to human experience, and to integrate the wellbeing of individuals with the design of healthy public spaces and neighborhood-wide environments. The joint venture will advance and bolster climate literacy in Northwest Ohio.

References: City of Toledo (2021) Climate change Vulnerability Assessment for Stormwater
GCA (2020) Global Center on Adaptation: Temperatures in the Great Lakes are rising and putting the vulnerable at risk

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Tourism as Environmental Disaster: Vulnerable Landscapes and Vulnerable Populations on the Atlantic Coast Barrier Islands
David Franco, Ulrike Heine, Andreea Mihalache and George Schafer, Clemson University

An aerial photograph showing islands off a coast

(Image: Tourism as Environment)

Barrier islands are vulnerable landforms critical for the protection of coastal ecosystems and communities, whose rich vegetation merges with water in marshlands and beaches. During the Jim Crow era, they were the safe havens of self-sustaining Gullah-Geechee communities from the Carolinas to South Florida, until when a massive invasion of vacation homes, hotels, and oversized tourist infrastructure began to displace them during the 1950s. Bringing together design, theory, and technology, this course addresses the abusive tourist practices that have shaped the Atlantic coast as we know it, through alternative approaches to tackle these landscapes’ social, environmental, and spatial challenges.

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Energy Collectives: Towards a Self-Sustaining Neighborhood
Lawrence Blough, Pratt Institute
Simone Giostra, Politecnico di Milano

3-dimensional multi-colored renderings of building shapes

(Image: City block housing proposals mapping yearly solar radiation – IDC funded studios. Blough & Giostra, 2019-21)

Our proposal calls for radical new models of inhabitation, production, and protection of vital ecosystems by pairing objective environmental analysis with speculative architectural scenarios. A model for a self-sufficient settlement located on the city’s periphery will integrate overlapping scales of production and conservation. Animated by new modes of co-living, working and shared resources, it will provide a roadmap for future growth of the city and its environs. Energy performance in buildings is form dependent—addressing resource scarcity and environmental degradation demands a new design aesthetic and formal approach based on ecological inputs and necessity. The four vital infrastructures of Food, Energy, Water and Waste (FEW2) will be investigated for their design agency through a paired research seminar and design studio in order to effectively tackle the climate and energy crisis.

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2021 Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

OVERVIEW

Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize technological solutions alone can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore issuing, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis—especially as it intersects with demands for environmental and racial justice—can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society in the midst of a global pandemic as it continues to grapple with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

This proposal is related to a multi-year Buell Center project entitled “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which seeks critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. Objects of intense political, social, and economic contestation, technical infrastructures distribute power in both senses of the word: as energy and as force. Concentrating on the United States but extending internationally, “Power: Infrastructure in America” opens overlapping windows onto how “America” is constructed infrastructurally to exclude neighbors and to divide citizens. But infrastructures can also connect. Organized in a modular fashion as an open access resource for learning, teaching, and acting, the contents of the project website enable visitors to better understand the complex webs of power shaping our lives and the lives of others. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in America today. Change begins with connecting the dots.

 

WINNERS

Gulf: Architecture, Ecology, and Precarity on the Gulf Coast
Matthew Johnson & Michael Kubo, University of Houston

An aerial view shows a curving water source with infrastructure on either side, and a city in the distance

Much of contemporary carbon culture and its environmental consequences can be traced back, forensically or circumstantially, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The extraction of fossil fuels has made the Texas-Louisiana coastline a global center of oil production, sprawling along the bayous and wetlands of Beaumont, Galveston, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, and Houston.

While the products of carbon have fueled the mega-region’s expansion, the sprawling oil industry has produced structural inequities in its built environment. Racially segregated “fenceline” communities sit in uneasy proximity to petrochemical plants, subject to the environmental impacts of polluted soil, air, groundwater, and aquifers. Toxic clouds, spills, and other disasters are common in these areas, particularly during extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. In this context, an examination of the relationship between architecture, urbanism, climate, and environmental justice is urgently needed.

The proposed “superstudio” (a combined research studio and seminar) deals with the history and speculative futures of petro-culture’s long century and its aftermath. We will engage the wicked problems facing individual communities along the Texas-Louisiana coast, from flooding and pollution to toxic development patterns, and propose methods for repairing the discriminatory effects of petro-culture on the broader environment of the Gulf.

Download the Winning Course


Hazard Mitigation + Race + Architecture
Mahsan Mohsenin, Reginald Ellis & Andrew Chin, Florida A&M University

A map displaying the flood zones around Tallahassee, with four zones ranging from 500 year to 100 year floodway

“Hazard Mitigation + Race + Architecture” is a cross-disciplinary collaboration that brings together faculty from two departments at the Florida A&M University: architecture and African-American history. The goal is to provide a cross-disciplinary approach to climate change and recognize Florida’s challenges as ethical and political issues, rather than purely environmental or physical in nature. Every year, Florida is one of the states that is most impacted by climate change through flooding, hurricanes, etc. According to a 2016 US Environmental Protection Agency report, the Florida peninsula has warmed more than one degree during the last century. The sea is rising about one inch every decade and heavy rainstorms are becoming more severe. This is of special concern to minority and underserved communities; specifically, African-Americans, who are often impacted the most by climate change. But as architecture students learn about sustainability, the intersection of race and architecture adaptations are not widely discussed. Architectural responses to climate change include floating or amphibious structures, design for lateral forces, and merging hazard mitigation with architectural design. The goal of this course is to introduce segregation and planning inequities in the discussions of architectural responses to hazard mitigations.

Download the Winning Course


High-Performance, Low-Tech
Liz McCormick, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

A diagram showing different parts of a machine including:  a fan attachment, an unconditioned chamber, and a membrane
(Ana Sandoval and Michelle Barrett)

The global increase of atmospheric temperature rise, combined with the rapid growth of previously underdeveloped climate zones, presents a growing need for low-cost solutions that serve those without access to advanced technologies. Within the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, high-performance buildings are often associated with expensive, high-tech strategies that rely heavily on complex mechanical systems. New technologies may change the way that one designs, but they cannot replace the basic climate-specific principles celebrated by vernacular architecture. In response, students will explore the vernacular strategies associated with rapidly urbanizing regions in order to translate their character, physical qualities, and thermal capabilities to a commercial scale, reducing the reliance on energy-intensive mechanical systems while developing a new, climate and culture-specific urban identity.

This course mixes historical referencing with physical experimentation to demonstrate performance metrics and explore the ways building systems could engage and empower the occupant. Integrated as dynamic systems, buildings could better react to fluctuating environmental conditions. By combining students from across the campus, this interdisciplinary course strives to bridge the gap between design, performance, and building analytics. In the spirit of affordable, low-tech and climate-specific enclosure systems, this class will employ accessible physical testing methods to make building technology innovation more accessible.

Download the Winning Course


Just Play
Karla Sierralta, Cathi Ho Schar, Prisma Das & Phoebe White, University of Hawaii at Manoa

A close-up image of a large-scale game made of wooden pieces, a chalkboard, and an arm extends from the right side of the image with a piece of green chalk in hand

“Just Play” is a set of coordinated courses in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban and regional planning at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa that will focus on climate change and design justice. The objective is to explore learning through teaching, and teaching through play. Students will conduct research and design place-based, equity-focused educational games for a five-week course, which will be offered to 12 participating high schools through the Mānoa Academy program, led by the College of Social Sciences. University students will work in partnership with the Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability, and Resiliency (OCCSR), to build on their 2020-21 Climate Change Open Houses and talk stories. These open houses gather information that will enable the OCCSR to develop equity initiatives for Honolulu’s Climate Adaptation Strategy. Students will integrate the OCCSR’s community input with research to design interactive games that cultivate citizenship skills such as empathy, negotiation, decision-making, and collective action to foster resilient island communities. “Just Play” seeks to engage climate change from an equity standpoint, focusing on social action, empowerment, scenario-planning, systems-understanding, design, and education, reaching beyond technological solutions. It represents a multi-departmental effort to expand our reach as educators and advocates.

Download the Winning Course


Professional Practice 3: Future Practice
Megan Groth, Woodbury University

A photograph from an airplane showing part of a plane wing and land below
(Ymzp85)

The direct relationship of the global climate crisis to the built environment—the realm of the architect—means that architects are uniquely positioned to respond to the climate emergency in and through their work.  Unfortunately, the architect’s lack of agency, in part due to the traditional architecture business model, the profession’s codes of conduct, value system, and lack of ethical framework, does not make it possible for architects to act to the degree and with the speed that is required. “Future Practice” asks students to situate architecture practice in the larger context of our communities, cities, countries, and planet and ask: How do we value what we do as architects? What do we need to achieve in practice in order to pursue climate justice? How then do we create new, implementable value systems by which to restructure our work in order to align it with those goals? Using readings from a variety of different cross-disciplinary sources and thinkers, students will be encouraged to think beyond what practice is and into the radical realms of what practice could become in the future.

Download the Winning Course




HONORABLE MENTIONS
 

Living by Water
Amee Carmines & Carmina Sanchez-del-Valle, Hampton University

A collage of colorful topographic images with black silhouettes of people holding hands along the bottom of the frame

English Literature and Community Design Issues Joint Micro Seminars on Place and Community

The joint micro-seminars in “Living by Water” focus on the interaction between place and community, particularly at times of crisis. Architecture students in a course on community design collaborate with students in a course on the novel to visualize literary works to create an environment that promotes a critical dialogue, crossing invisible and implied disciplinary boundaries. In the texts, the landscape of communities built and destroyed around constructions of racial hierarchy link to the construction of the narrative. This collaborative inquiry reveals the structures, physical and social limitations, and strategies needed to shelter human beings in ways that enrich cultural expression; and shows how knowledgeable and skilled local communities are about their built environment.

Download the Course


Spaces of Coal
Pep Avilés, Penn State University

A grid of twelve photographs, mostly black and white, showing scenes related to 19th century coal production

Space of Coal + Anthracite Culture

The industrialization of modern states following the Enlightenment ran parallel to the increasing extraction and production of soft coal and anthracite. Coal became the leading source of energy during the nineteenth century as a replacement both for other combustibles (wood) and power sources (water and wind) and contributed in turn to the rapid development of transportation, industry, and—eventually—the modern urban experience. Coal-based capitalism was a global environmental project from the very beginning, affecting the morphology of modern cities as a consequence of iron and steel construction and of the alteration of natural landscapes to accommodate the new infrastructures that industries demanded. Regrettably, economic development triggered climate change and global warming. Although the heyday of coal production in the US occurred around the beginning of the twentieth century—consumption declined steadily following World War II, once oil proved to be a more effective and profitable source of energy—the global impact of past coal mining on the environment has not been reversed: currently, coal still remains at the origin of the majority of global CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, contributing dramatically to global warming.

Download the Course


The Built Environment
Hyon K. Rah, University of the District of Columbia

A web diagram indicating a spectrum of vulnerable to resilient, with points of supplier and receiver

Climate change, increasingly frequent and devastating disasters, and the built environment are inextricably linked. This calls for a fundamental shift in how we design, plan, and manage the built environment – from self-referential and siloed to more contextualized and systems-based. This introductory course, required for all undergraduate architecture majors and cross-listed within the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability & Environmental Sciences, takes a holistic look at different scales and disciplines contributing to the built environment along with the social, economic, and environmental interdependencies and influences. Various design, technical, financial, and policy tools and strategies are explored. The goal is to better prepare our students for increasingly complex and challenging conditions and the role of interdisciplinary facilitator architects are required to play.

Download the Course

2020 Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

 

OVERVIEW

Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore launching, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society as it grapples with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

 

WINNERS

Adaptation to Sea Level Rise
Mason Andrews, Hampton University 

"

A two semester cross-disciplinary course focusing on adapting to the impacts of sea level rise in existing urban neighborhoods in sadly soggy southeastern Virginia has been in place since 2014. In the first semester, students of architecture, engineering, and, intermittently, of pure and social sciences, hear lectures from subject matter experts on soils and hydrology, preservation, urban design, public policy, and social justice and more. Simultaneously, community engagement with stakeholders begins, as does a series of design initiatives in which the architecture students and faculty model the processes of Studio Based Learning. The latter is the subject of a current NSF program study by ethnographers. While student work has been the basis for a $115,000,000 HUD NDRC implementation grant, it is also true that, as in efforts outside academia, disciplinary silos keep professions ill-equipped to work successfully together. In a subject as vast as the planning of adaptation strategies, however, the only path forward is bringing the expertise of a wide array of knowledge types together; there is inadequate time for sequential disciplinary speculation. Next year area professionals will join the design studio as well. It is hoped a new community of practice will emerge modeling effective transdisciplinarity.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Public Issues, Climate Justice, and Architecture 
Bradford Grant, Howard University 

"

Science, empirical evidence and some technical solutions about Global Climate Change are well documented and generally known to our upper division architecture students who have taken the required Sustainability course. While our students may understand that the world’s climate is warming as an existential and profound threat for the future of our environment, we see that our thinking and action on Climate Change are influenced not only by the science, but by an array of social, and political dynamics. How architects can help the client, profession and the public’s understanding of the Climate Crises, influence changes in policies for environmental equity and propose a Climate Change response is the direction of this course. Student’s understanding of their role as future professionals in the public process for climate change design policies, environmental justice, and a call for action, is the goal of the course.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary
Gabriel Fuentes, Daniela Shebitz, and Julia Nevarez, Kean University

" 

Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary is a cross-disciplinary course to be taught in collaboration between Kean University’s School of Public Architecture, School of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, School of Social Sciences, and the Human Rights Institute (HRI). Its aim is to intersect architecture with the emerging field of energy humanities in order to speculate openly and collectively on the broad political and aesthetic dimensions of climate change. Its guiding premise is that climate change is symptomatic of a deeper crisis of thought that requires transdisciplinary modes of critical analysis to unmask. Our fossil-fueled, petrocultural reality, is not a mere techno-economic problem to be solved by mere techno-economic solutions; rather it is a deep cultural problem that entwines our social practices and energy uses with politically motivated representations and narratives about nature, modernity, and the environment. Petroculture operates in plain sight—post-industrial society is an oil society through and through. Climate change, then, is a symptom of a global carbon regime that permeates all aspects of our physical, material, intellectual, and affective lives. Change can only come by unthinking this regime and its infrastructures, by constructing new imaginaries of a post-carbon world. Paradoxically, unthinking requires deep thought.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Design Based on Estimating Ripple Effects of Carbon Footprint
Jeanne Homer, Khaled Mansy, John Phillips, and Tom Spector, Oklahoma State University

"

We are a group of faculty seeking the integration of the climate action goal of decarbonization into the design studio. We co-teach our school’s comprehensive design studio (required 4th year studio), in which performance is emphasized as a principal driving force for design development. Students are challenged with the task of making their buildings as resource-efficient as possible. Students are required to seek evidence-based feedbacks to improve the performance of their design, i.e., the structural, energy, and financial performance. Our endeavor is to redefine the educational goals of studio to integrate carbon footprint as the primary measure of performance, which should open the door for students’ creativity in finding innovative ways to minimize carbon emissions due to both operational and embodied energy. The current content and scope of studio enable students to develop the understanding and ability to generate all of the evidence-based data required to evaluate building performance, but this data stops short of estimating the building’s carbon footprint. The next step is to explore ways to develop the studio further, pushing the envelope towards making it possible to estimate the ripple effects of carbon footprint and the (direct and indirect) impact of buildings on climate change.

Download the Winning Course

 

"Exist, Flourish, Evolve" — Territorial Care and the Upper Misi-Ziibi
Gabriel Cuéllar, University of Minnesota 

"

This studio is concerned with imagining how architecture, as a discipline, practice, and material reality, can help uphold the Rights of Nature. Exploring this emerging paradigm—codified in the phrase, “to exist, flourish, and evolve”—the studio will define concrete expressions of the ethics of care embodied in the recognition of rights for other-than-human entities. Our subject will be the Mississippi Headwaters watershed, whose ecological communities and dynamics will figure as protagonists in our studio. We will study how the ‘Great River’ propelled Minnesota’s productivity and explore what role it, as a potential rights-bearing entity, might play in reshaping ecological and spatial relations. We will seek to account for biogeochemical interactions irreducible to human agency, while identifying approaches to guide architectural intelligence within present environmental predicaments. We will rely on our discipline’s sensibility for mobilizing documents and precedents, identifying spatial relations, forming systems of coherence, and analyzing material characteristics and form. In parallel, we will chart out architectural efforts and effects embedded in situational contingencies that transpire over time, interact with other forces, and thrive as strictly infrastructural. Acknowledging that Rights of Nature are, presently, written aspirations, our goal will be to articulate the architectural dimensions that could support them.

Download the Winning Course

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Changing Minds for a Changing Climate
Sara Stevens, Adam Rysanek, and Kees Lokman, University of British Columbia

"

Co-taught by a historian, a landscape architect, and a building scientist, this course proposes that design thinking has the potential to reframe the wicked problem of climate change. Weekly structured debates will pose provocations based on a set of historical and contemporary episodes and contested landscapes that position the designer in relation to societal change. Students assignments (Debate, Review, Conceive, and Impact) will analyze case studies in order to reimagine the relationship between design and climate change. Divided into modules that highlight different perspectives, the class will include lectures, workshops, and collective assignments intended to produce a small exhibition.

Download the Course

 

Architecture and Environmental Orientalism in the Arab World
Faysal Tabbarah, American University of Sharjah

"

The course investigates the relationship between architectural and environmental imaginaries in the development of post-colonial architecture in the Arab World. The course integrates readings and discussions around Orientalism, Environmental Orientalism, environmental history, and colonial/post-colonial architecture in the region. Integrating environmental history methodologies into architectural discourse reveals the relationship between architecture, environmentalism and colonialism. This framework raises the following questions: What do colonial legacies have to do with environmentalism, and how does this shape Arab architecture? How do contemporary ideologies and practices of environmentalism impact Arab architecture? And finally, what are non-Western designers to do in the face of ongoing Orientalism and the climate crisis?

Download the Course

 

A Global Warming History of Architecture Since 1800
Hans Ibelings, University of Toronto

"

Outline for a First-Year Undergraduate Lecture Course
In the last decades, histories of architecture have made a global turn. Now is the moment for architectural history’s global warming turn. If modern architecture is normally understood to have originated in Europe, so does global warming, with the Industrial Revolution igniting both. This lecture course is a reading of the history of architecture since 1800 through the lens of humankind’s increasing ecological footprint.

Download the Course

 

Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

OVERVIEW
Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore launching, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society as it grapples with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

This prize was begun as part of a Buell Center project entitled “Power: Infrastructure in America,” which sought critically to understand the intersections of climate, infrastructure, and architecture. It is being continued in conversation with ongoing research on "Architecture and Land in and out of the Americas." This plural, Americas, helps decenter the concept of "American Architecture" in two ways: by connecting building practices across the Western Hemisphere, and by recognizing that there are several Americas within the United States. It is in this spirit that the prize aims to contribute to the development of intersectional pedagogy on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society” in the Americas today.

UP TO FIVE $10,000 PRIZES
Up to five proposals will be selected by the jury for eight thousand dollars in cash prizes and two thousand dollars in travel support to present the winning course proposals at the ACSA Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. To receive the cash prize and travel support, winners must demonstrate viability for the course at their host institution within two years of the prize’s distribution via a letter from their program’s head administrator. Developed syllabi of winning proposals will be published on both the ACSA and Buell Center websites.

ELIGIBILITY
The Course Development Prize is open to faculty at all ACSA member schools. Faculty from Columbia University are not eligible.

SUBMISSION
Submissions are accepted through an online interface in the spring and summer. 

The final submission upload must contain the following: 

  • Course proposal (three pages)—The course proposal should consist of a title, course description, a list of selected readings or other sources, and a work plan for course development and implementation. 
  • Faculty bio—If multiple faculty are involved, include all (entire submission not to exceed two pages)
  • Letter of support from the head administrator of the architecture program (one page).

All materials should be submitted in PDF format, with no more than six pages total.

REVIEW PROCESS
A jury drawn from the Buell Center Advisory Board will review the submissions and determine award winners. Special consideration will be given to proposals that include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting.

CONTACTS

Eric Wayne Ellis
ACSA, Senior Director of Operations & Programs
202-785-2324    
[email protected]

Jacob Moore
Buell Center, Associate Director
2120854-8165
[email protected]

Project identity design by This is our work.

 

Are you interested in joining a network of faculty teaching architecture, climate change, and society? PLEASE SIGN UP

 

 

Under red, green, and blue doppler-like effects, text reads "Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society."

 

OVERVIEW

Education in architecture and urbanism is well positioned creatively and critically to address the exigencies of climate change. However, pedagogical methods that prioritize immediate applicability can come at the expense of teaching and research that explore the sociocultural and ecopolitical dimensions of the crisis. This, in turn, ultimately limits the range of approaches addressing climate change in professional practice. Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture is therefore launching, together with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a competitive call for course proposals on the theme of “Architecture, Climate Change, and Society.”

From history seminars to visual studies and from design studios to building technologies, the wide variety of course offerings at schools of architecture is a testament to the diversity of perspectives, skills, and tools that ultimately comprise quality work in the field. In contrast, the urgency of the unfolding climate crisis can seem to demand a singular focus that is antithetical to humanities-based critical inquiry or to longer-term creative and technical endeavors. We seek the kind of realism, however, that redefines problems and leaves room for the imagination. Successful proposals for this Course Development Prize in Architecture, Climate Change, and Society will include methods and themes that innovate within their institutional setting—asking hard questions of students that are equal in weight to the hard questions being asked of society as it grapples with the intertwined causes and effects of climate change.

 

WINNERS

Adaptation to Sea Level Rise
Mason Andrews, Hampton University 

"

A two semester cross-disciplinary course focusing on adapting to the impacts of sea level rise in existing urban neighborhoods in sadly soggy southeastern Virginia has been in place since 2014. In the first semester, students of architecture, engineering, and, intermittently, of pure and social sciences, hear lectures from subject matter experts on soils and hydrology, preservation, urban design, public policy, and social justice and more. Simultaneously, community engagement with stakeholders begins, as does a series of design initiatives in which the architecture students and faculty model the processes of Studio Based Learning. The latter is the subject of a current NSF program study by ethnographers. While student work has been the basis for a $115,000,000 HUD NDRC implementation grant, it is also true that, as in efforts outside academia, disciplinary silos keep professions ill-equipped to work successfully together. In a subject as vast as the planning of adaptation strategies, however, the only path forward is bringing the expertise of a wide array of knowledge types together; there is inadequate time for sequential disciplinary speculation. Next year area professionals will join the design studio as well. It is hoped a new community of practice will emerge modeling effective transdisciplinarity.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Public Issues, Climate Justice, and Architecture 
Bradford Grant, Howard University 

"

Science, empirical evidence and some technical solutions about Global Climate Change are well documented and generally known to our upper division architecture students who have taken the required Sustainability course. While our students may understand that the world’s climate is warming as an existential and profound threat for the future of our environment, we see that our thinking and action on Climate Change are influenced not only by the science, but by an array of social, and political dynamics. How architects can help the client, profession and the public’s understanding of the Climate Crises, influence changes in policies for environmental equity and propose a Climate Change response is the direction of this course. Student’s understanding of their role as future professionals in the public process for climate change design policies, environmental justice, and a call for action, is the goal of the course.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary
Gabriel Fuentes, Daniela Shebitz, and Julia Nevarez, Kean University

" 

Unthinking Oil: Public Architecture and the Post-Carbon Imaginary is a cross-disciplinary course to be taught in collaboration between Kean University’s School of Public Architecture, School of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, School of Social Sciences, and the Human Rights Institute (HRI). Its aim is to intersect architecture with the emerging field of energy humanities in order to speculate openly and collectively on the broad political and aesthetic dimensions of climate change. Its guiding premise is that climate change is symptomatic of a deeper crisis of thought that requires transdisciplinary modes of critical analysis to unmask. Our fossil-fueled, petrocultural reality, is not a mere techno-economic problem to be solved by mere techno-economic solutions; rather it is a deep cultural problem that entwines our social practices and energy uses with politically motivated representations and narratives about nature, modernity, and the environment. Petroculture operates in plain sight—post-industrial society is an oil society through and through. Climate change, then, is a symptom of a global carbon regime that permeates all aspects of our physical, material, intellectual, and affective lives. Change can only come by unthinking this regime and its infrastructures, by constructing new imaginaries of a post-carbon world. Paradoxically, unthinking requires deep thought.

Download the Winning Course 

 

Design Based on Estimating Ripple Effects of Carbon Footprint
Jeanne Homer, Khaled Mansy, John Phillips, and Tom Spector, Oklahoma State University

"

We are a group of faculty seeking the integration of the climate action goal of decarbonization into the design studio. We co-teach our school’s comprehensive design studio (required 4th year studio), in which performance is emphasized as a principal driving force for design development. Students are challenged with the task of making their buildings as resource-efficient as possible. Students are required to seek evidence-based feedbacks to improve the performance of their design, i.e., the structural, energy, and financial performance. Our endeavor is to redefine the educational goals of studio to integrate carbon footprint as the primary measure of performance, which should open the door for students’ creativity in finding innovative ways to minimize carbon emissions due to both operational and embodied energy. The current content and scope of studio enable students to develop the understanding and ability to generate all of the evidence-based data required to evaluate building performance, but this data stops short of estimating the building’s carbon footprint. The next step is to explore ways to develop the studio further, pushing the envelope towards making it possible to estimate the ripple effects of carbon footprint and the (direct and indirect) impact of buildings on climate change.

Download the Winning Course

 

"Exist, Flourish, Evolve" — Territorial Care and the Upper Misi-Ziibi
Gabriel Cuéllar, University of Minnesota 

"

This studio is concerned with imagining how architecture, as a discipline, practice, and material reality, can help uphold the Rights of Nature. Exploring this emerging paradigm—codified in the phrase, “to exist, flourish, and evolve”—the studio will define concrete expressions of the ethics of care embodied in the recognition of rights for other-than-human entities. Our subject will be the Mississippi Headwaters watershed, whose ecological communities and dynamics will figure as protagonists in our studio. We will study how the ‘Great River’ propelled Minnesota’s productivity and explore what role it, as a potential rights-bearing entity, might play in reshaping ecological and spatial relations. We will seek to account for biogeochemical interactions irreducible to human agency, while identifying approaches to guide architectural intelligence within present environmental predicaments. We will rely on our discipline’s sensibility for mobilizing documents and precedents, identifying spatial relations, forming systems of coherence, and analyzing material characteristics and form. In parallel, we will chart out architectural efforts and effects embedded in situational contingencies that transpire over time, interact with other forces, and thrive as strictly infrastructural. Acknowledging that Rights of Nature are, presently, written aspirations, our goal will be to articulate the architectural dimensions that could support them.

Download the Winning Course

 

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Changing Minds for a Changing Climate
Sara Stevens, Adam Rysanek, and Kees Lokman, University of British Columbia

"

Co-taught by a historian, a landscape architect, and a building scientist, this course proposes that design thinking has the potential to reframe the wicked problem of climate change. Weekly structured debates will pose provocations based on a set of historical and contemporary episodes and contested landscapes that position the designer in relation to societal change. Students assignments (Debate, Review, Conceive, and Impact) will analyze case studies in order to reimagine the relationship between design and climate change. Divided into modules that highlight different perspectives, the class will include lectures, workshops, and collective assignments intended to produce a small exhibition.

Download the Course

 

Architecture and Environmental Orientalism in the Arab World
Faysal Tabbarah, American University of Sharjah

"

The course investigates the relationship between architectural and environmental imaginaries in the development of post-colonial architecture in the Arab World. The course integrates readings and discussions around Orientalism, Environmental Orientalism, environmental history, and colonial/post-colonial architecture in the region. Integrating environmental history methodologies into architectural discourse reveals the relationship between architecture, environmentalism and colonialism. This framework raises the following questions: What do colonial legacies have to do with environmentalism, and how does this shape Arab architecture? How do contemporary ideologies and practices of environmentalism impact Arab architecture? And finally, what are non-Western designers to do in the face of ongoing Orientalism and the climate crisis?

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A Global Warming History of Architecture Since 1800
Hans Ibelings, University of Toronto

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Outline for a First-Year Undergraduate Lecture Course
In the last decades, histories of architecture have made a global turn. Now is the moment for architectural history’s global warming turn. If modern architecture is normally understood to have originated in Europe, so does global warming, with the Industrial Revolution igniting both. This lecture course is a reading of the history of architecture since 1800 through the lens of humankind’s increasing ecological footprint.

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