The Harvard Graduate School of Design has named Germane Barnes as the winner of its 2021 Wheelwright Prize, awarding the Miami-based architect with $100,000 to fund two years of research and travel for his proposal, Anatomical Transformations in Classical Architecture. Now in its ninth cycle, the annual Wheelwright Prize recognizes an early-career architect to support promising design research. For his project, Barnes will investigate Roman and Italian architecture from the perspective of non-white constructors, examining both the contributions of the African Disapora and the "new architectural possibilities that emerge within investigations of Blackness," according to a GSD press release.
This summer, Barnes will begin his research with a dive into portico typologies in Italy and Northern Africa, creating a map that tracks the "spatial mobility" of porch and portico structures across different continents and cultures. Through his research, which recalls his previous architectural explorations of porches, Barnes hopes that drawing a connection between classical architecture and porch structures will reframe "the spatial and conceptual terrain through which one finds inventions of race, identity, and the built environment."
"The past year has shown the world that marginalized communities offer more than a cursory look, but a thorough excavation of their contributions and legacies,” Barnes said in the same release. “As a Black architect I have struggled with the absence of my identity in the profession, and there have been moments where I have questioned my talent and ideologies because they failed to gain recognition in prominent architecture circles. To believe that the only way to measure success is acceptance was a thought I had to exterminate. I am fortunate to have a support system that challenges these systems of exclusion because it gives importance and agency to Black spatial investigations."
A Chicago native, Barnes earned his B.S. in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his M.Arch from Woodbury University, in Burbank, Calif. Currently the director of the University of Miami School of Architecture Community Housing Identity Lab, Barnes is the founder and director of Studio Barnes in Miami and the former designer-in-residence for the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation in Opa-locka, Fla. Barnes also won the 2021 Rome Prize in Architecture and will contribute to the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
The finalists for the 2021 Wheelwright Prize included Puerto Rican architect and artist Luis Berríos-Negrón; Iulia Statica, co-founder of Office for Architecture, Urban, and Environmental Research in New York and London; and Catty Dan Zhang, assistant professor of architecture for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The jury for the 2021 Wheelwright Prize comprised David Brown, professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture; David Hartt, Carrafiell assistant professor in fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design; Mark Lee, chair of the department of architecture at Harvard GSD; Megan Panzano, assistant professor of architecture and program director of undergraduate architecture studies at Harvard GSD; Sumayya Vally, founder and principal of Counterspace Studio; and Sarah M. Whiting, dean and Josep Lluís Sert professor of architecture at Harvard GSD.
Previous winners of the Wheelwright Prize include the London-based architect Daniel Fernández Pascual (2020) Austin, Texas–based architect Aleksandra Jaeschke (2019), Brussels–based architect Aude-Line Dulière (2018), and Santiago, Chile–based Samuel Bravo (2017).