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April 15, 2020
by Center for Architecture
Marrina-Boontheekul
Marrina Boontheekul, AIA, NCARB, “Migrating from Prison”. Photo: Courtesy of Marrina Boontheekul.
Rebecca Rand, “Migrating from Prison”. Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Rand.
noroof architects, Margarita McGrath, AIA, LEED BD+C, and Scott Oliver, AIA, LEED AP, “Land Ho! The Endangered Mobile Home Park as a Hothouse for Alternative Forms of Affordable Living”. Photo: Courtesy of noroof architects.
A mobile home, featured in noroof architects' “Land Ho! The Endangered Mobile Home Park as a Hothouse for Alternative Forms of Affordable Living”. Photo: Courtesy of noroof architects.
Fiyel Levent, “ReProgrammed: A Solutions Oriented Analysis of Civic Architecture in Finland”. Photo: Courtesy of Fiyel Levent.
Oodi Library by ALA Architects, featured in Fiyel Levent's “ReProgrammed: A Solutions Oriented Analysis of Civic Architecture in Finland”. Photo: Courtesy of Fiyel Levent.
Lynnette Widder, “Year Zero to Economic Miracle: Studies in Architectural Debate, Design, and Material Culture in West Germany 1949-1964”. Photo: Courtesy of Lynnette Widder.

Four Mid-Career Architects Awarded the 2020 Arnold W. Brunner Grant for Architectural Research Grant

The Center for Architecture, in partnership with AIA New York, is proud to announce the recipients of the 2020 Arnold W. Brunner Grant for Architectural Research:

  • Marrina Boontheekul, AIA, NCARB, and Rebecca Rand (New York, NY) – “Migrating from Prison” ($15,000)
  • noroof architects, Margarita McGrath, AIA, LEED BD+C, and Scott Oliver, AIA, LEED AP (Brooklyn, NY) – “Land Ho! The Endangered Mobile Home Park as a Hothouse for Alternative Forms of Affordable Living” ($10,000)
  • Fiyel Levent (Forest Hills, NY) – “ReProgrammed: A Solutions Oriented Analysis of Civic Architecture in Finland” ($5,000)
  • Lynnette Widder (New York, NY) – “Year Zero to Economic Miracle: Studies in Architectural Debate, Design, and Material Culture in West Germany 1949-1964” ($15,000)

The Arnold W. Brunner Grant is awarded to mid-career architects for advanced study in any area of architectural investigation that will contribute to the knowledge, teaching, or practice of the art and science of architecture. Projects are judged based on their engagement with contemporary local and global architectural issues and the usefulness of the research’s end product.

2020 Brunner Recipients

Marrina Boontheekul, AIA, NCARB, and Rebecca Rand (New York, NY) – “Migrating from Prison” ($15,000)

With greater widespread support for decarceration and criminal justice reform, the question of where people will live upon release is more pressing than ever. Architectural analysis is missing from the existing research on housing for formerly incarcerated individuals. Permanent supportive housing has proven to be an effective mechanism for reducing recidivism, but the few successful programs in operation are underfunded and limited in capacity. Spatial analysis and design thinking will be critical to solving the shortage and shortcomings of reentry housing.

Through on-site surveys of each housing typology, interviews, and targeted focus groups to obtain a diverse pool of data, Boontheekul and Rand’s research will illuminate common pathways and outcomes for individuals coming out of prison to determine an emergent architecture of reentry. Ultimately, the research project seeks to find correlations between spaces of reentry and successful outcomes like reduced recidivism and sustained employment.

Marrina Boontheekul, AIA, NCARB, is a Senior Designer/Project Architect at Kimberly Brown Architecture. Rebecca Rand is a Senior Designer at Kimberly Brown Architecture.

noroof architects, Margarita McGrath, AIA, LEED BD+C, and Scott Oliver, AIA, LEED AP (Brooklyn, NY) – “Land Ho! The Endangered Mobile Home Park as a Hothouse for Alternative Forms of Affordable Living” ($10,000)

Roughly 4.3 million Americans live in manufactured housing. Since most mobile home owners do not own the land their homes sit on, these structures are valued as chattel and typically depreciate like cars rather than appreciate as homes. Land and unit values, as well as land use regulations, have discouraged the building of new communities, and ownership transitions threaten existing communities. New financing models are emerging in response to the urgent need for affordable housing to enable both unit ownership and land ownership.

McGrath and Oliver will study the endangered mobile home park, both to document existing typologies and to propose new forms of community planning as a blueprint to tackle the multi-scale, multi-demographic, affordable housing challenge. The purpose of this study is to improve this model by drawing a more diverse population of residents through good design, and to generate new typologies applicable to other sectors of affordable housing.

Margarita McGrath AIA, LEED BD+C, and Scott Oliver, AIA, LEED AP, are the founders of noroof, an award-winning Brooklyn-based architecture firm.

Fiyel Levent (Forest Hills, NY) – “ReProgrammed: A Solutions Oriented Analysis of Civic Architecture in Finland” ($5,000)

The societal landscape of a city is depicted within the workings of its civic institutions, spaces ideally devoid of commercialism. It is here that we have a tangible record of how cities flourish when the social needs of its citizens are supported. This is particularly evident in various institutions built in the last decade throughout Finland, where many libraries and schools, for example, have been reprogrammed to meet the evolving needs of society, community, and climate. The civic oriented programs of these buildings reflect architectural strategies that can be universally embraced.

The focus of this project will be specifically on recently completed projects that have been cultivated to serve their communities; these include both large infrastructure projects such as the Oodi Helsinki City Library, and smaller community buildings such as the Lehtikangas School in Kajaani. The aim will be to engage with these socially infused civic infrastructures of Finland and produce a body of research on the methods and programs that have been developed as a result of intensive planning between public officials, architects, and end users.

Prior to joining MBB Architects, Fiyel Levent ran her own design studio. She is now the Director of Interior Design at MBB Architects and works on a broad range of academic and institutional projects.

Lynnette Widder (New York, NY) – “Year Zero to Economic Miracle: Studies in Architectural Debate, Design, and Material Culture in West Germany 1949-1964” ($15,000)

In the fifteen years following 1949, intense intellectual debate and material transformation characterized West German architectural culture, represented in both philosophical narratives and material facts. It left behind compelling, yet still understudied, cultural documents that could meaningfully contribute to the histories of architecture, cultural change, political will and technological development; it also produced wonderful buildings. Among the era’s leading architects, Hans Schwippert (1899-1973) and Sep Ruf (1908-1982) offer eloquent examples of an architecture designed in response to the country’s interwar legacy and its Cold War context.

Widder’s project will culminate in the production of a book introducing Ruf and Schwippert’s architecture to an American audience via Thad Russell’s 2019 photographs. Newly discovered working drawings and documents from the private archives of Elisabeth and Notburga Ruf, and of the Hedwig Cathedral in Berlin, augment unpublished drawings and letters from the archives of SOM, Avery Library at Columbia University, the Architecture Museum of the TU Munich, and the German National Museum in Nuremberg.

Lynnette Widder is the Principal and Co-founder of aardvarchitecture, a small architectural practice specializing in residential work with an emphasis on high-quality innovative construction.

About Center for Architecture Grants and Scholarships

The Center for Architecture, in partnership with AIA New York, awards scholarships and grant awards throughout the year, for architectural students, architectural student journals, and practicing architects. All grants are open to applicants nationwide.

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