Archive for September, 2008

A 2008 MacArthur Fellowship for John Ochsendorf, FAAR’08 in Historic Preservation and Conservation

September 23, 2008

It sure makes the transition from a year in Rome a bit easier.

Ochsendorf at AAR June 2008 Open Studios

Recent Academy fellow John A. Ochsendorf (FAAR’08), an engineer and architectural historian at MIT, has won one of 25 MacArthur Fellowships for 2008.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation grants this highly coveted award to citizens or residents of the US working in any field, who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.” The current amount of the award—which the Foundation deems “an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential”—is $500,000 over five years.

The MacArthur Foundation praised Ochsendorf for his work in “restoring structures from the distant past and identifying ancient technologies for use in contemporary constructions.” See the full profile here.

aged 34, is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He returned just months ago from holding the National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation at the American Academy.

There his project focused on quantifying the safety of masonry vaulting in Rome. “Which historic vaults are most at risk of collapse in Italy today?”, asked Ochsendorf in his proposal. “No one can say at present”. So at the AAR Ochsendorf developed new online analysis tools to identify “pathologies, assessment methods, and repair strategies for masonry vaulting.”

Ochsendorf, working in the Vatican Library and with Italian preservationists, used the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli and the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva as case studies. “This work”, he stated, “will contribute to our historical understanding as well as the future preservation of masonry vaulted buildings in Italy and around the world.”

Listen to John Ochsendorf discuss his work (1 minute audiofile) during June 2008 AAR Open Studios: ochsendorfvault1

With Ochsendorf, almost a dozen and a half Fellows, Residents and Affiliates of the American Academy in Rome have also held a MacArthur Fellowship since the inception of that program in 1981. They are listed here by MacArthur year:

1981 Joseph Brodsky, RAAR 1981 Literature
1981 Robert Penn Warren, RAAR 1957 Literature
1984 Galway Kinnell, RAAR 1987 Literature
1986 Charles Wuorinen, RAAR 1991 Musical Composition
1986 Leo Steinberg, RAAR 1976, 1986 History of Art
1987 Mark Strand, RAAR 1983 Literature
1988 Noel M. Swerdlow, RAAR 1990 Classical Studies & Archaeology
1989 John Harbison, RAAR 1981 Musical Composition
1989 Martin Puryear, RAAR 1998 Visual Arts
1990 Jorie Graham, RAAR 2008 Literature
1991 David Hammon, FAAR 1990 Visual Arts
1997 Vija Celmins, FAAR 2003 Visual Arts
1998 Edward Hirsch, FAAR 1989 Literature
1999 Elizabeth Murray, RAAR 1991 Visual Arts
1999 Fred Wilson, AAR Trustee 2008- (artist)
2004 Judy Pfaff, RAAR 1988 Visual Arts
2008 John Ochsendorf, FAAR 2008 Historic Preservation & Conservation


Astra Zarina (1929-2008), FAAR’63, was first woman to win Rome Prize in Architecture

September 4, 2008

“I’m an architect. I am also by nature a teacher. I love to see people develop, grow, discover themselves. When I work with them, I discover things too.”

Astra Zarina (2007), sketch by James Corey

The words of Astra Zarina, FAAR’63, distinguished architect, preservationist, and university professor—and the first woman to receive a Rome Prize in Architecture from the American Academy in Rome. Zarina died on 31 August 2008, just a few days past her 79th birthday.

Tributes are quickly appearing in both Italy and America. But the fullest portrait so far can be found in an obituary that her friends, colleagues, and husband Anthony Costa Heywood wrote. It follows below in its entirety, with a few links for further reading.

“Astra Zarina was a renowned architect, distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, founder of the UW Italian Studies programs and of the UW Rome Center.

Professor Zarina was a practicing architect and a member of the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Along with her husband, Anthony Costa Heywood, and others, she co-founded the Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI), a private, nonprofit organization based in Seattle

Professor Zarina taught architecture and urban design at the University of Washington for over three decades, both in Seattle and in Italy. She established the Architecture in Rome program in 1970 and the Italian Hilltowns program in 1976. Hundreds of students have progressed through these programs developed by Professor Zarina to expose young architects and designers to the lessons of continuity and change in Italian architecture, urban planning, design and culture. She influenced thousands of students throughout her career, inspiring many who have gone on to become internationally influential architects and designers in their own right.”