AIA College of Fellows awards 2017 Latrobe Prize to Northeastern University Researchers for ‘Future-Use Architecture’

Award will help fund the investigation and documentation of the tectonic and performative attributes that facilitate long-term use and persistent change of buildings

For immediate release:

Washington, D.C. – April 24, 2017 – The American Institute of Architects (AIA) College of Fellows selected a team of three faculty members from Northeastern University’s School of Architecture and Resilient Cities Laboratory to receive the 2017 Latrobe Prize for their study of “Future-Use Architecture”.

The Latrobe Prize, named for architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows for a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. The $100,000 award will enable the team to identify design attributes contributing to future adaptability, demonstrate future-use design strategies for buildings using words and graphics, and document and analyze architectural precedents that exemplify future-use design. Designing for “future use” focuses on the balance between flexible and fixed building systems to respond to unforeseeable contingencies while conserving the essential architectural design and performance. Future-use design engages architects with architectural attributes of organization as a vehicle for creative solutions and unique architectural expression in the face of persistent change.

The selected Latrobe Prize proposal by Peter Wiederspahn AIA, Associate Professor of Architecture, and Principal of Wiederspahn Architecture; Michelle Laboy PE, Assistant Professor of Architecture and co-founder of FieLDworkshop and David Fannon AIA, Member ASHARE, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant Professor of Architecture and of Civil and Environmental Engineering, seeks to answer questions related to how to best design buildings and cities for unknown future uses and how to help initiate more informed development practices and regulatory frameworks for adaptive reuse and regeneration.

The jury was impressed with the holistic quality of the proposal, its cogent framework, and its real potential for advancing knowledge of “future-use, future-proofing”.  The proposed outcomes will include interactive products of immediate use to practice, while also advancing architectural education and our collective understanding of the characteristics of buildings.  

“The Latrobe Prize allows us to demonstrate the strategic benefits and deployable attributes of future-use design,” explained Wiederspahn. “These principles can significantly transform architectural services by incorporating the full temporal scope of buildings.”

Laboy contextualized the work, adding “This is an opportunity to expand on a pedagogical model, which we developed to help students systematically consider and design what is essential and long-lasting in architecture, and apply it to the challenges of practice.” Fannon linked the proposal to the 2017 Latrobe themes, noting that “Predicting the future is impossible, but designing for the future is not.”

Founded in 1952, the College of Fellows is comprised of AIA members who are elected to Fellowship by a jury of their peers. Elevation to Fellowship recognizes individual achievements of the architect but also elevates before the public and the profession those architects who have made significant contributions to architecture and to society.

Members of the 2017 Latrobe Prize jury include: Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA, Clemson University; Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, Architect of the Capitol; Frank M. Guillot, FAIA, Guilot-Vivian-Viehmann; Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, Kwan Hanmi Architecture/Planning; Lenore M. Lucey FAIA, Chancellor of College of Fellows; Jud Marquardt FAIA, LMN Architects; Raymond G. Post FAIA, Post Architects; Marilyn Jordan Taylor  FAIA, University of Pennsylvania.

About The American Institute of Architects

Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through nearly 300 state and local chapters, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. Visit

About Northeastern University

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global, experiential, research university built on a tradition of engagement with the world, creating a distinctive approach to education and research. The university offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools, and select advanced degrees at graduate campuses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Toronto. Visit for more information.


Matt Tinder
Back to media center list