Since 1996, the Graham Foundation's Carter Manny Awards has recognized Ph.D. students whose projects exhibit potential to significantly impact contemporary architectural discourse. One award is given for dissertation research and another for dissertation writing. This year's competition reeled in 41 applications from Ph.D. students based in the U.S. and Canada, who were nominated by their school departments.
The $20,000 dissertation writing award went to "A Concrete Alliance: Modernism, Communism, and the Design of Urban France, 1958–1981" by Vanessa Grossman, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. Jesse Lockard, a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Chicago's Department of Art History, was granted $15,000 for dissertation research on her project "A City Is Not A Picture: Yona Friedman, 1945–2015". Additionally, five students received Citations of Special Recognition.
So what are some of today's architectural scholars investigating? As common as it sounds, history can provide a lot of insight that can push forward current discussions of discourse.
Get a glimpse of the top-winning projects below.
2015 Carter Manny Award for doctoral dissertation writing:
"A Concrete Alliance: Modernism, Communism, and the Design of Urban France, 1958–1981"
By Vanessa Grossman
Summary: "The massive reshaping of French cities by architects that took place between 1958 and 1981 is commonly regarded as a unique episode when modernist ideals were tested on an unprecedented scale. Yet the history of postwar French modernism has never fully accounted for the pervasive influence of one of architecture's most important institutional patrons, the French Communist Party. This dissertation investigates the long-lasting concrete alliance established between architects and the Party that found its most fertile terrain in midsized French cities. Through four significant cases, the project unveils how through their contributions to the spatial shaping of the French communist project and their early engagement with urban issues, architects were among the first to confront shifting trends in urbanization, to appropriate French urban sociology, and to anticipate the crisis that the modern city would experience beginning in the 1960s."
"Vanessa Grossman is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University’s School of Architecture. Grossman graduated from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of the University of São Paulo and holds a master’s degree in the history of architecture from Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne University. Her research focuses on the history of modern architecture and urban design in France and Brazil."
2015 Carter Manny Award for doctoral dissertation research:
"A City Is Not A Picture: Yona Friedman, 1945–2015"
By Jesse Lockard
Summary: "In the late 1950s, Yona Friedman catalyzed a 'crisis of professionalism' in architecture by demanding that those who use spaces be allowed to design them. Inspiring contemporary interest in user participation and galvanizing the birth of megastructuralism, he envisioned 'un-planned' habitats supported by adaptable space-frames and suspended above extant cities. Friedman, who has built little, is today known for striking collages visualizing such 'Spatial Cities.' Yet, in seeming contradiction, he describes the act of ceding aesthetic control to users as irreconcilable with the inherently prescriptive nature of architectural imagery. Friedman's pictures and theories constitute parallel and conflicting practices. Tensions between ideals of participation and traditions of architectural representation motivated his invention of pictographic languages and drove his pioneering experiments with new media and emergent computer-aided design in the 1960s and '70s. The art world's adoption of Friedman’s work in the 1990s is a testament to the diverging legacies of his pictorial and his theoretical practices. Rectifying a lack of scholarly attention at odds with Friedman's immense influence, this dissertation theorizes the changing status of the architectural image in the postwar era."
"Jesse Lockard is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago, specializing in postwar architecture and urbanism. She also works on the historiography of art history, researching the place of architectural theory in the development of early formalism."
Citations of Special Recognition projects:
"Teaching Architecture to the Masses: VKhUTEMAS, 1920–1930" by Anna Bokov | Yale University, School of Architecture
- "'Cities Unburnable!' Terra Cotta and the Architecture of Fire Safety in America, 1871–1916" by Johnathan Puff | University of Michigan, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
"The City at the Falls: Building Culture in Richmond, Virginia, 1730–1860" by Elizabeth Cook | College of William and Mary, Department of History
"Drawing Machines: The Mechanics of Art in the Early Republic"
Elizabeth Eager | Harvard University, Department of the History of Art and Architecture
"A Grain of Sand: Yingzao Fashi and the Miniaturization of Chinese Architecture"
Di Luo | University of Southern California, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
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