"We're not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we're losing the creek too," wrote NASA water scientist Jay Famiglietti recently in the Los Angeles Times, arguing that the state has only one year's worth of water remaining in reservoirs. While at least one official disputes this claim as a "glib generalization," the message still stands: California is having water problems.

The Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University is located in Southern California's Burbank, and just won a $100,000 grant from the AIA College of Fellows for the development of a new digital water mapping and modeling tool. The tool, called Hazel, will be developed by the Drylands Resilience Initiative, which includes Peter Arnold and Hadley Arnold of the Arid Lands Institute, Rowan Roderick-Jones of ARUP's Water Systems Group, Deborah Weintraub, AIA, the chief deputy city engineer for Los Angeles's Bureau of Engineering in the Department of Public Works, and Leigh Christy, AIA, and John Haymaker, AIA, of Perkins+Will. The idea behind the project is to design solutions for harvesting water more locally, using techniques such as reclaiming stormwater, recycling wastewater, and conservation. 

"Local water provided by water recycling and stormwater capture could provide 82 percent of Los Angeles's current needs," Peter Arnold, the initiative's research director, said in an ARCHITECT article last year. While Hazel is geared to Los Angeles right now, the project aims to make the technology applicable in other locales.

The AIA College of Fellows awards the Latrobe Prize every two years to fund the same number of years of research benefiting the architecture field. The prize as it is today originated from a grant program kicked off in 2000. The last Latrobe Prize was awarded to Bimal Mendis, Assoc. AIA, and Joyce Hsiang, Assoc. AIA, for their "Urban Sphere: The City of 7 Billion" project.

This year's prize jury included: chair David Cronrath, AIA, of University of Maryland; Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, the Architect of the Capitol; Angela Brooks, FAIA, of Brooks + Scarpa; Albert W. Rubeling, FAIA, the chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows; Roger Schluntz, FAIA, of the University of New Mexico; Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA, of Clemson University; John R. Sorrenti, FAIA, the vice chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows; and Lawrence Speck, FAIA, of the University of Texas at Austin.