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

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


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