Two SAIC grads were recognized in the twenty-ninth annual Schiff Foundation Fellowship for Architecture and twelfth annual Fellowship for Critical Architectural Writing. The distinguished members of the 2017 jury included Ellen Hartwell Alderman, Director of Public Programs, Graham Foundation, Chicago; Claire Cahan, Studio Design Director, Studio Gang, Chicago; Jon Lott, principal, PARA Project, New York; and Dena Wangberg, architect, Gensler, Chicago.
With lively deliberation the jury awarded second place to Kate Barbaria, MArch, ‘17 for her thesis, "Tools of a Revolution: The Kiss of the non-human" and an honorable mention to David Thomas, MFA 17, for his paper, ARCHITECTURE WHEN THE TIME COMES.
Barbaria’s thesis is an exploration of current and future stakes of conservation and land management practices in the United States, and a series of inquiries on the relationship between the human and the non-human. The thesis takes the form of a design fiction--sited in the United States in the not- so-distant future, featuring a band of vigilante conservationists who travel across the country, maintaining open corridors for wildlife migration between eight major territories of American biodiversity. The group derives its philosophy and many of its tools, garments, and ways of living from the writings and inventions of 19th century writer and conservationist John Muir.
The resulting production of tools, maps, vehicles, and other artifacts for this future community are a meditation and a commentary on the current tenuous state of biodiversity and humanity’s distorted relationship to the land, more than a “solution” or a fantasy. The intent of the this architectural thesis, as with all projective fiction, is to create a confrontation with the motivations, tools, and protocols of a future group of people who have decided to actively preserve the biodiversity of the United States, without waiting for systemic change or governmental facilitation.
Thomas’ paper presents a theoretical preparation for that precise moment when it becomes possible to practically transform chaotic and violent conditions into creative processes and products. It is a preparation, that is, for architecture when the time comes.