Archive for January, 2009

Letter from SOF President: why your 2009 dues matter

January 27, 2009

An electronic version of a letter that all members of the Society of Fellows will soon find in their mailboxes, accompanied by the 2009 Dues Card and update form, and a 2009 list of upcoming events…



It was the first of my New Year’s resolutions to bite the dust. “Resolved: immediately after arrival in Rome for January visit to Fellows, write to SOF membership an update to accompany 2009 Dues Card.”

The notion was to build on the momentum the Society of Fellows has seen since just the start of January. Two days before stepping on the plane I had attended a great Philadelphia regional event that architects Stephen Kieran (FAAR’81) and James Timberlake (FAAR’83) hosted at their firm. And at that reception I received an armful of the Winter 2008/9 SOF News from editor James Bodnar (FAAR’80) and design editor Joel Katz (FAAR’03) to tote to the Academy. You should have received yours by now.

So the plan was to take out my laptop on Day One in the AAR’s magnificently restored Library, and hammer out an inspired appeal to past Fellows, Residents and Affiliates to pay their individual dues of $40.00 (gently reminding the membership that the last dues requested were for 2007).

You can pay your dues by downloading and mailing the 2009 form, or electronically by clicking here.

Why dues? A glance at the list of upcoming events shows that there is a lot in store for 2009, starting with a Los Angeles regional gathering on Friday 27 February to coincide with the annual meeting of the College Art Association. Then receptions tethered to the conferences of The American Institute of Architects (San Francisco, early May) and American Society of Landscape Architects (Chicago, September), as well as a rocking Fellows’ Gala 3 December 2009 in New York, chaired by AAR Trustee Laurie Anderson (RAAR’06) and others.

Add to that the work that has started on a new comprehensive directory (electronic and print) of the individuals who have comprised the American Academy in Rome, building on the 1995 Centennial Directory to take us up into the next decade. And of course the SOF News, recast to appear once again as a semiannual publication. In the past year the SOF Council made a major gift to the entire Academy community in Rome to support its “greening” efforts, and also to benefit the Kitchen in its innovative Rome Sustainable Food Project. More is to come: for instance, it is providing digital technology to help the Fellows record their own moments of insight and understanding. (more…)


Endowing a Permissions Assistant for the Academy: a challenge gift by Philadelphia architects Stephen Kieran (FAAR’81) and James Timberlake (FAAR’83)

January 23, 2009

Question: Can you name a leading American architectural design firm where every partner is a Rome Prize Fellow?

Answer: Perhaps uniquely, Philadelphia’s award-winning KieranTimberlake.

ktgroup2008The KieranTimberlake firm, with founding partners at orange table

Founded in 1984 by Stephen Kieran (FAAR’81), FAIA, and James Timberlake (FAAR’83), FAIA, the firm is now comprised of more than fifty design professionals. One of its hallmarks is an unusually deep commitment to research into new materials, processes, assemblies, and products.

Over the past quarter century KieranTimberlake has been conducting studies and planning or restoring buildings and interiors for a wide range of clients, with pathbreaking work for cultural and educational institutions, industries and corporations, and private residences—all with a focus on sustainable design.

The American Academy in Rome community got an up-close look at KieranTimberlake and its many ambitious projects on 9 January 2009, when the firm hosted a Philadelphia regional event for the Society of Fellows. The reception coincided with the annual meetings of the American Philological Association and American Institute of Archaeology.

There the family of T.R.S. Broughton (1900-1993, RAAR’60) was honored by a presentation of the newly published Autobiography of this noted Roman historian and former Academy Professor-in-Charge. Then SOF president T. Corey Brennan, AAR Mellon Professor Thomas A.J. McGinn, and Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake all spoke on the centrality of permessi to the Academy experience (on which see much more below).

One recent KieranTimberlake project that received particular critical acclaim was its Cellophane House. The Museum of Modern Art commissioned this five-story, offsite fabricated dwelling for its exhibition Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling, that ran in NYC from 20 July to 20 October 2008.  You can see a video featuring Cellophane House here.

Now that their firm has reached the quarter-century mark, there’s a lot to celebrate about Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake. They were inaugural recipients of the prestigious Benjamin Latrobe Fellowship for architectural design research from the AIA College of Fellows in 2001—and then went on to co-author three architecture books in the subsequent seven years. And just last year (2008) KieranTimberlake received the highest honor bestowed on a firm by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture Firm Award.

For the Academy community, well worth celebrating is the fact that they recently have made a major challenge gift to the Academy to help endow the staff position of Permissions Assistant.

A word of explanation. (more…)

Greening the Academy: SOF holiday gift to AAR benefits Rome Sustainable Food Project

January 2, 2009

Since 26 February 2007—a date worth celebrating—the AAR Kitchen has seen a remarkable transformation. It has to do with the vision of executive chef Mona Talbott, who has brought a mission to Academy dining. The new AAR website explains:

“The Rome Sustainable Food Project (RSFP) provides the community of the American Academy in Rome with a collaborative dining program that nourishes scholarship and conviviality. Guided by the indomitable spirit of the Roman table, it is our aim to construct a replicable model for sustainable dining in an institution.”

There’s a lot to this story, extending to the replanting of some formal gardens at the AAR to host patches of herbs, lettuces, and vegetables. You can read raves about the RSFP even as it stood in its earliest months here and here. Plus there is a must-read interview with Mona Talbott in the latest number of the SOF News (on which see below), where she discusses her experiences and influences, especially her long association with culinary icon Alice Waters.

aartableCommunal table in the Cortile of the AAR’s McKim, Mead & White building

This holiday season the Council of the Society of Fellows decided to support the efforts of the RSFP to foster better environmental practices within the Academy—and also to celebrate Rome’s free, abundant water supply.

So the SOF has donated 300 SIGG reusable aluminum drink bottles with the RSFP logo to the American Academy in Rome. On Christmas Eve the current class of Fellows plus Residents, Fellow Travelers, as well as the AAR Staff received these as holiday gifts; remaining SIGG bottles are on sale at the Academy to visitors and guests. The proceeds will be used to support the AAR Kitchen’s programs.

It was current Fellow Andrew J. Kranis who inspired the gift. A holder of a National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation and Conservation, Kranis is a former designer for Whole Foods Market. His AAR project focuses on community ecology in the city, with a vigorous reimagination of the “green” potentiality of Rome’s thousands of piazze and their water fountains.

The bottle with logo is a collaboration between Kranis and AAR Trustee Michael Rock, FAAR’00, a founding partner in multidisciplinary creative firm 2×4, Inc.


Kranis explains that “these reusable bottles, made in Switzerland and printed locally in Italy, will help to reduce the waste generated from disposable beverage packaging and can be filled up at any of the city’s 4,500 public drinking fountains. They are made of durable, seamless aluminum that contains none of the harmful chemicals found in polycarbonate plastic water bottles. SIGG’s patented liner is taste and scent neutral and resistant to fruit juice acids, so the bottles can be used for any beverage.”


In the Winter 2008 edition of the Society of Fellows News, editor James Bodnar FAAR’80 interviews Mona Talbott about the genesis and development of the Rome Sustainable Food Project. There Talbott explains: “By providing food that’s nutritious, delicious and inexpensive, we can support the mission of the Academy. People can come to meals and bring their friends, or residents can come and sit for a long time at the table, shelling beans and sharing ideas, and that’s our goal. We really want to integrate ourselves more and more into the Academy.”

For more information on the Rome Sustainable Food Program, you can email


Pictured above, 29 October 2008 in Rome: R. William Franklin
, AAR Associate Director for External Affairs; food luminary Alice Waters, founder of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse Restaurant; Christopher Boswell
, RSFP Sous Chef; and Mona Talbott
, RSFP Executive Chef