February 14, 2024
by Center for Architecture
Selfie of Mina Chow
Mina Chow. Photo: Courtesy of Mina Chow.
Helen Liu Fong headshot
Helen Liu Fong. Photo: Courtesy of Larry Hirschowitz.
Denny's Coffee Shop in Buena Park, CA.
Denny's Coffee Shop in Buena Park, CA. Photo: Courtesy of Jack Laxar.
Black-and-white image of Clock diner.
Clock diner. Image: Courtesy of Armet Davis Newlove.
Headshot of Charles L. Davis II.
Charles L. Davis II. Photo: Charles L. Davis II.
Rendering of a public art project: Black Home as Public Art
Black Home as Public Art. Images: Courtesy of Charles L. Davis II.
Photos of art houses in Baton Rouge.
Art houses in Baton Rouge, LA. Images: Courtesy of Charles L. Davis II.
Headshot of Basar Girit
Basar Girit. Photo: Courtesy of Basar Girit.
Headshot of Katie Shima
Katie Shima. Photo: Courtesy of Katie Shima.
Flexible build housing plan.
Flexible build housing plan. Image: Courtesy of Basar Girit.
Headshot of Janette Kim
Janette Kim. Photo: Janette Kim.
An illustration demonstrating a community land trust system.
An illustration in Property Playbook demonstrating a community land trust system. Image: Courtesy of Janette Kim (with Hannah Leathers).
Illustrated diagram of a community-owned solar power system
An illustration in Property Playbook demonstrating a community-owned solar power system. Image: Courtesy of Janette Kim (with Hannah Leathers).

The Center for Architecture, in partnership with AIA New York, is proud to announce the 2024 recipients of the Arnold W. Brunner Grant.

The Arnold W. Brunner Grant is awarded to mid-career architects for advanced study in any area of architectural investigation that contributes to the knowledge, teaching, or practice of the art and science of architecture. AIANY and the Center for Architecture’s joint Scholarship Committee assesses projects based on their engagement with contemporary local and global architectural issues and the utility of the research project’s end product.

AIANY and the Center for Architecture award scholarships and grant awards throughout the year for architectural students, architectural student journals, and practicing architects. Visit our website for more information on upcoming grants and scholarships deadlines.


Mina Chow
“Haunted by Helen Liu Fong”

“Haunted by Helen Liu Fong” parallels the lives of two Chinese-American female designers chasing their dreams forty years apart. Architect and filmmaker Mina Chow uncovers the neglected contributions of an artist whose life and career challenges traditional roles in Chinese and American culture. When Fong bucks the systems that constrain her, her consummate creativity helps shape American mid-century architecture including signature looks for Denny’s and Bob’s Big Boy. In 2000, LA Magazine’s “Almost Famous” cites Helen’s yearning for recognition, but she dies on April 17, 2005, unsung by her community. We need a fundraising trailer to make a documentary on Helen’s life.

Mina Chow, FAIA, NCARB, is an award-winning interdisciplinary filmmaker, licensed architect, Adjunct Professor at the USC School of Architecture, and a Faculty Fellow at USC Annenberg Center on Public Diplomacy. Through her filmmaking, public scholarship, and interdisciplinary teaching, Chow communicates important underlying relationships between design and culture. She serves as a design history consultant for the U.S. Department of State Expo Unit. Her 2022 PBS documentary FACE OF A NATION: What Happened to the World’s Fair? continues its impact including citations in Smithsonian Magazine and international screenings on Emirate Airlines and the 2022 International Communications (ICA) Conference in Paris. She has directed and produced films for the American Institute of Architects and the University of Southern California. Select awards include the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the California Architectural Foundation, USC’s Architectural Guild, the US-China Institute, and the Ambassador’s Fund.

Charles L. Davis II
“The Black Space Archive”
Award: $10,000

The Black Space Archive is a digital humanities project that will create a publicly accessible and searchable online database of Black contributions to the built environment, concentrating on historical phenomenon that have emerged in the United States from the postwar period to the present. The entries recorded in this archive will combine the analytical techniques of history and the social sciences (such as oral histories, critical mapping, and ethnography) with dominant modes of architectural representation (floor plans, Lidar scans, and photography) to compile a representative set of case studies of Black spatial, formal, and material innovations in the built environment.

Charles L. Davis II is an associate professor of architectural history and criticism at UT Austin’s School of Architecture. His academic research excavates the role of racial identity and race thinking in architectural history and contemporary design culture. He is co-editor of Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (University of Pittsburgh, 2020), and his book manuscript, Building Character: The Racial Politics of Modern Architectural Style (University of Pittsburgh, 2019), was a winner of the Charles Rufus Morey book prize from the College Arts Association. Davis is currently working on a second sole-authored monograph tentatively entitled Putting Black in Place: A Spatial History of Black Architectural Modernity, which recovers the overlooked contributions of black artists and architects in shaping the built environment from the Harlem Renaissance to Black Lives Matter.

Basar Girit and Katie Shima
“Massive Wood for Massive Change: an Approach to Demountable Timber ADUs for Urban Environments”

This project will explore a novel approach towards addressing both the housing crisis in New York City as well as the urgent need to decarbonize the built environment. The research will focus on developing a demountable, prefabricated, all-wood panel system for site-built construction, aligning circular thinking with small-scale urban development. The flexible build system will be demonstrated on two Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) typologies designed specifically for NYC. The work will culminate in a design manual, as well as a full-scale physical prototype of the panel system.

Basar Girit, founding partner of SITU, has played a central role in SITU’s leadership and evolution over its 18-year history. Having driven the formation and growth of the Fabrication division, he now provides the creative vision for its architectural practice. Katie Shima joined SITU in 2012 and currently serves as Design Director. Girit and Shima together have led numerous architecture projects combining design, research, and fabrication toward innovation and impact, ranging from the Making Space project with the Brooklyn Public Library to the 400,000-square-foot Humboldt Campus for Google in California. Girit also currently serves as visiting researcher at Aalto University in Finland and has previously taught in the architecture program at Pratt Institute. He has received numerous awards including an Emerging Voices award from The Architectural League of New York, a President’s Citation Award from the Cooper Union, and numerous Fast Company Innovation by Design awards. In addition to her role at SITU, Shima teaches architecture at Columbia University and is a working artist.

Janette Kim
“Property Playbook”
Award: $15,000

The subdivision of land as private property set the stage for colonization, resource extraction and real-estate speculation, dispossessing BIPOC communities and workers from their lives and livelihoods. Yet, many ideas behind ownership—such as the commons, inheritance, and maintenance—can also redistribute wealth, sustain cultural continuity, and foster environmental responsibility. Property Playbook is a forthcoming book and research project that illustrates how activists and architects can work together to co-opt property law and foster a just and ecologically vibrant built environment. The book presents 24 “plays,” or strategies for reclaiming ownership, championed by community-based organizations across the United States.

Janette Kim is an architectural designer, researcher, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kim is Associate Professor of Architecture at California College of the Arts—where she co-directs the Urban Works Agency research lab—and founding principal of the design firm All of the Above. Kim works across media to empower communities to realize a more equitable redistribution of land, resources and risk. She has published and exhibited research on the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative, of which she is a member and investor-owner. Her book, The Underdome Guide to Energy Reform (Princeton Architectural Press, with Erik Carver) was praised as an “indispensable tool” for framing “design as a form of political action.” Her work has been featured in the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Oslo Architecture Triennale, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and subway systems in New York City, São Paulo, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen.


2024 grants and scholarships were awarded by the 2024 Scholarship Committee:

Matthew Bremer, AIA, Architecture In Formation
Jennifer Sage, FAIA, LEED AP, Sage and Coombe Architects
Nina Cooke John, AIA, Studio Cooke John
Sydney Maubert, Studio Maubert
Anthony Titus, Anthony Titus Studio
Jessica Sheridan, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Mancini Duffy
Sara Caples, AIA, Caples Jefferson Architects PC
Richard Yancey, AIA, LEED AP, Building Energy Exchange, Inc.
Eunjeong Seong, LEED AP, Visible Weather; Bell-Seong, Pratt Institute
Peter Robinson, Cornell University and WorkUrban