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The AIA College of Fellows Awards 2007 Latrobe Prize for “On the Water, A Model for the Future: A Study of New York and New Jersey Upper Bay” research project

      Princeton university professor, Guy Nordenson to serve as principal investigator

      The American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows has awarded its 2007 Latrobe Prize of $100,000 for the proposal, “On the Water, A Model for the Future: A Study of New York and New Jersey Upper Bay”. The study focuses on New York City’s harbor but can be a model for any waterfront area. College of Fellows Chancellor Frank Lucas, FAIA, presented the award to principal investigator Guy Nordenson, professor, structural engineering, Princeton University School of Architecture and founder of Guy Nordenson and Associates, New York.

      The other recipients of the Latrobe Prize were Stan Allen, AIA, Catherine Seavitt, AIA, and James Smith, Princeton University; Michael Tantala, Tantala Associates; and Adam Yarinsky, FAIA, and Stephen Cassell, AIA, Architecture Research Office.

      The grant, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for research leading to significant advances in the architectural profession. The “On the Water” research project presents ideas for future waterfront development along the New York and New Jersey Upper Bay, such as parks, while also addressing precautions, such as flooding caused by rising sea levels.

      “The appeal of the project to the College of Fellows is the same as its appeal to the team, which is a chance to bring architects, engineers, and others together to think about the possibility of using the challenges associated with climate change as a way to rethink the character of the waterfront, in particular the New York Upper Bay, but also by extension other similar regions around the country,” said Guy Nordenson.

      Latrobe Award jury Chair, Daniel Friedman, FAIA said, “Professor Guy Nordenson and his expert team propose to reconceptualize the relationship between infrastructure and ecology in the 21st century waterfront city. Global warming and climate change provide a sobering backdrop for this ambitious analysis of urban systems.”

      According to the proposal, there is an opportunity to recognize the bay as a water-bound “Central Park,” a “common ground that can be a meeting place and cross roads on the water” through greening the land parallel to the water with parks, increasing water-based transit such as ferries, and continuing to develop waterfront residential and commercial building. For many waterfront areas lining the bay, post-industrial damage and transportation hubs have prevented development. The “Central Park” concept proposes a “waterfront reflecting the interplay of the built and natural environment.”

      But to conceive this concept, rising sea levels caused by global warming, changes in precipitation, and increasing storms need to be addressed. The weather phenomena, plus global pollutants, will affect the shorelines’ soil, water, vegetation, and wildlife, all in turn affecting future design decisions for livability and recreation.

      The plan will address:

      • Study the urban ecology of the harbor and its waterways, which includes edges, coastlines, watersheds, geological composition, and tidal variation

      • Propose new public transportation infrastructural corridors linking the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey, e.g., water taxis

      • Investigate the urban consequences of possible global warming-induced flooding scenarios

      AIA College of Fellows Chancellor Frank Lucas, FAIA, stated, “The College is truly excited about Guy Nordenson’s winning proposal, ‘On the Water,’ and its potential for major contributions to our urban environs and our waterfront cities. This is exactly the quality of scholarly research envisioned by The College of Fellows in the Latrobe Prize.”

      About The American Institute of Architects

      For 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. AIA members have access to the right people, knowledge, and tools to create better design, and through such resources and access, they help clients and communities make their visions real.


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