On April 19, the trustees of the American Academy in Rome announced the 30 recipients of the 111th annual Rome Prize. Shown here are seven of the eight winners in the design and preservation/conservation categories. (National Archives conservator Jana Dambrogio, whose study of northeastern Italian monastic legal and accounting documents won a prize in historic preservation/conservation, is not shown.) A list of all winners can be found at www.aarome.org.

For those fortunate enough to receive the fellowship, the six months to two years they spend in Rome frequently has a powerful effect on their future work. What is it about their time in the Eternal City that is so life-changing?

“I think it's a combination of things,” says academy president Adele Chatfield-Taylor. “It's a legitimate time out, which is hard to come by. Also, Rome is an immensely fascinating place, whether you're into antiquities, the present, or the future.”

Finally, Chatfield-Taylor says, the academy community itself affects fellows' lives and careers. “People don't expect [the community] to be the factor that it is,” she says. “But it's such a joy to sit at the table with people who are outside your field. The architect sits next to the poet, who sits next to the art historian, and so on. It's kind of like Noah's Ark: two of everything.”

Thom Mayne of Morphosis led the design jury, which judges the architecture, design, and landscape architecture entries. The jury's other members were New York artist Laurie Anderson; James Corner, landscape architecture chair at the University of Pennsylvania; Karen A. Phillips, head of the New York City Planning Commission; Michael Rock, graphic designer and partner at multidisciplinary firm 2x4; and Ken Smith, principal at Ken Smith Landscape Architect.

Paula M. De Cristofaro, a paintings conservator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, chaired the historic preservation and conservation jury. The other two members were Mark Hariri, an architect, construction executive, and developer at Phbcatalystgroup Inc., and E. Renée Ingram, president and founder of the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation.



Frederick Fisher, principal in charge, Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects

PROJECT Art, Space, Collage

DESCRIPTION A study of postwar Italian museum design

ON WINNING THE ROME PRIZE “It is an opportunity to take a professional ‘time out,' assess what I have produced thus far, and focus on what I want to pursue in my next phase of work. The relationship between art and architecture is the foundation of my practice.”


Daniel Mihalyo and Annie Han, founders, Lead Pencil Studio

PROJECT Spatial Inquiry: Looking at Nothing in Rome

DESCRIPTION An exhaustive study of the city's spatial terrain from multiple vantage points, documenting the invisible quality of space

On winning the Rome Prize “We are really excited that the academy is supporting work that falls somewhere between art and architecture. It will be an important opportunity for us to develop this research into a cogent set of ideas and will lead us to a whole new way of describing space.”



John Cary, executive director, Public Architecture

PROJECT Activist Architecture/Attivismo architettonico

DESCRIPTION A study of three student uprisings in Italy—all spearheaded by architecture students—beginning with the Battle of Valle Giulia in 1968

On winning the Rome Prize “It's a major milestone for the academy to recognize the kind of practice I'm in. You can trace in some of the better-known architects at this time of life in their practice when things began to change. Some cite the Rome Prize as a major influence on their work.”


Molissa Fenley, artistic director, Molissa Fenley and Dancers

PROJECT The Pattern of the Surface

DESCRIPTION A study of Cosmati mosaics, which were created in the 12th and 13th centuries

On winning the Rome Prize “I am very thrilled to receive the Rome Prize in design. I have long been interested in the floor mosaics of cathedrals throughout Italy and am interested in devising a structure of dance composition suggested by experiencing the design of the Cosmati mosaics.”


Historic Preservation and Conservation

John Ochsendorf, associate professor, Department of Architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

PROJECT The Preservation of Masonry Vaulting in Rome

DESCRIPTION A structural assessment of historic masonry vaulting

On winning the Rome Prize “Eleven months at the academy will give me a chance to write, to reflect, and to develop my research in exciting new directions. It is a fantastic opportunity, both professionally and personally. Living in Rome will give me access to some of the most significant vaulted buildings in the world.”


Landscape Architecture

Alan Berger, associate professor of landscape architecture, Harvard Graduate School of Design

PROJECT Landscape Reclamation and the Pontine Marshes

DESCRIPTION An examination of the role of design and landscape in the reclamation of Rome's environs

On Winning the Rome Prize “The fellowship comes at a crucial time in my career, and to a larger extent an extremely exciting period for the field of landscape architecture—when traditional practice is being challenged and evolved in the face of pressing global environmental concerns, and the European Union is taking leadership roles in areas such as climate change, sustainability, and urbanism.”


Lisa Tziona Switkin, senior associate, Field Operations

PROJECT Monument Landscapes: Constriction and Construction of the City

DESCRIPTION A study on the effects and influences of monuments and their associated territory on planning initiatives and the growth and development of Rome

On winning the Rome Prize “This is an incredibly rare and interesting opportunity for me to both independently research, develop, study, make, and create as well as be open, inspired, and influenced by others.”