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2019-2020 GSAPP Incubator Prize

Adam Marcus, Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab
Press Release
5 September 2019

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Announces the Recipients of the GSAPP Incubator Prize for Alumni-led Projects

Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019-2020 GSAPP Incubator Prize. Dedicated to the topic of Climate Change at the Building Scale, the Prize offers direct financial support to projects created by GSAPP alumni that advance environmental concerns in architecture and its related fields. In response to the many strong proposals received, the School will award six prizes of $10,000 each. The recipients are Greta Hansen, ’09 MARCH; Dan Luo, ’14 MARCH; Eugenia Manwelyan, ’11 MSUP; Adam Marcus, ’05 MARCH; Stephen Mueller, ’06 MSAAD; and Anahid Simitian, ’15 MSAAD. Collectively, their projects reflect the breadth of approaches bridging critical discourse and active practice, with which Columbia GSAPP’s alumni community engages this pressing issue.

The Prize recipients will convene at Columbia GSAPP in a closed workshop during the Fall 2019 semester, and will present the status of their projects at a public event at the School during the Spring 2020 semester.

Greta Hansen

Hempcrete Houses: Exploring the Possibilities of Building with Industrial Hemp in Cities

Greta Hansen’s project is a research investigation and design proposal for the use of hempcrete in cities. Hansen explores the potential of hempcrete as an ecological alternative to concrete. While concrete is responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2, hemp is highly carbon negative. As hemp grows it absorbs CO2 from the soil and releases oxygen, and as hempcrete it absorbs more CO2 from the atmosphere than wood products. Hansen will research the use of hempcrete at the scale of an urban building through three trajectories: material research into the possibilities of hempcrete block production, research and awareness with regards to municipal restrictions, and the design of a prototypical low rise residential building to demonstrate the possibilities for the use of hempcrete in urban construction.

Greta Hansen received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2009, and her BS in Architecture from University of Cincinnati. She leads the architecture studio Wolfgang & Hite in New York and has taught at Pratt School of Interior Design, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and University of Saint Joseph in Macau.

Dan Luo

Nature Reclaiming Abandoned Villages

Dan Luo investigates issues caused by the massive migration of rural populations to urban areas in China, and this project is designed to engage the re-growth of nature in abandoned villages, with a specific installation to be realized in Guizhou. Instead of re-occupying vacated village land with new programs and built space, the project integrates a return of nature within the community. Luo has designed installations to be placed in relation to the buildings in rural villages, with a careful selection of local plants to be placed around and onto the structure. Over time, a unique landscape will be created as an interplay between built structure and growing nature.

Dan Luo received her Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2014, and her B.A. in Architectural Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She is a doctoral candidate in Engineering with a focus on Digital Architecture Design and Fabrication at Tsinghua University, Beijing. Luo was Director of International Collaboration for the China Building Center, and has previously worked at UNStudio Shanghai and other architectural offices.

Eugenia Manwelyan

The Mountaindale School

The Mountaindale School is an ambitious project to reimagine a historic building located in the rural Catskills region of New York, as a multidisciplinary center for art and ecology. Its aim is to offer indoor and outdoor contemporary art exhibitions, artist studio spaces, educational programs, workshops, and public events. The GSAPP Incubator Prize will support an initial phase for Environmental Testing led by Manwelyan, alongside a community-engaged architectural design process. The project addresses “Climate Change at the Building Scale” not only through the intended use and educational mission of the Mountaindale School, but also in how the building renovation process and outcome reflect values of resiliency, sustainability, and interdependence by being designed to withstand the increasing impact of changing climate in the region.

Eugenia Manwelyan received her Master of Science in Urban Planning from Columbia GSAPP in 2011 and her Bachelor of Arts in International Development from McGill University. She also studied Ecology and Political Science at Tel Aviv University, and is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Pioneer Works, and the Columbia University President’s Global Innovation Fund, among others.

Adam Marcus

Ecologically Productive Floating Structures as a Form of Sea Level Rise Adaptation

Adam Marcus is conducting research into ecologically productive floating structures as a form of sea level rise adaptation. The premise of the research challenges conventional notions of “fouling”–the accumulation of marine life on the underside of floating structures–which is typically seen as a nuisance. The project considers the positive potential of biofouling, proposing that controlled upside-down habitats can become an ecological resource that contributes to broader ecosystemic health. The research seeks to bridge architectural methods of design computation and digital fabrication with the emerging field of computational ecology, which studies how ecological behaviors can be computationally modeled. The research is part of the Buoyant Ecologies project at the Architectural Ecologies Lab at California College of the Arts, and additional research partners include marine ecologists at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), and Kreysler & Associates, a global leader in advanced composites manufacturing. The collaborative project synthesizes architectural design, marine ecology, and material innovation to develop new low-cost and adaptive ways for architecture to address ecological change.

Adam Marcus received his Master of Architecture from Columbia GSAPP in 2005, and his B.A. in Architectural Studies from Brown University. After working for studios including Bernard Tschumi Architects and Marble Fairbanks, he founded the architecture, design, and research practice Variable Projects in Oakland, California in 2011. Marcus is Associate Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts, where his is co-director of the Architectural Ecologies Lab.

Stephen Mueller

Irradiated Shade

The project endeavors to develop and calibrate a means of uncovering, representing, and designing for the unseen dangers of irradiated shade, where the body is exposed to harmful, ambient or scattered UVB radiation even in apparent shade. The project will leverage its position in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metroplex, a vital testing ground in which the effects of solar radiation are felt especially by vulnerable populations occupying the increasingly austere and securitized public spaces of the border zone. Where pedestrians are subjected to high levels of solar radiation on cross-border commutes, access to shade is an “index of inequality”. Safe shade is contingent on the nuances of the surrounding built environment, and designers must be empowered to observe and respond to a wider context than current representational tools allow. The project aims to expand the architect’s toolkit in conceiving and representing solar radiation and its impact on bodies, through the production of custom representational tools, drawings, and interactive visualizations addressing a number of scales.

Stephen Mueller received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2006, and his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Kansas. He is a founding partner of AGENCY with Ersela Kripa (’06 MSAAD) and teaches at Texas Tech University El Paso.

Anahid Simitian

Crop Wild Relatives in the Fertile Crescent

The project was developed by Anahid Simitian and Bruno Nakaguma Gondo to study changing agricultural uses of the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East often referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”, and to specifically develop a community-based seed inventory and experimental kitchen in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The intention is to make seeds available to local Lebanese farmers and Syrian Refugees who fled their lands in Syria in a collaborative effort to plant, grow, and share knowledge on Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) – crops prior to being domesticated. The project is divided into two phases, beginning with collaborative research with experts studying Crop Wild Relatives in the Fertile Crescent in order to collect a seed inventory, and a second phase including the design and construction of the experimental kitchen and community hub.

Anahid Simitian received her Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia GSAPP in 2015, and her Bachelor of Architecture from the School of Architecture and Design at the Lebanese American University, Beirut. She co-founded the practice Oficina Aberta, with Bruno Nakaguma Gondo (’15 MSAAD), an architecture and design practice based in São Paulo and Beirut.

The GSAPP Incubator Prize
Launched in 2015, the GSAPP Incubator supports GSAPP alumni in their development of new ideas and projects about architecture, contemporary culture, and the future of the city. With the closing of the New Museum’s NEW INC space at 231 Bowery, where the GSAPP Incubator was an anchor tenant for the past four years, the initiative will be redeveloped during the coming years. During this transitional period, Columbia GSAPP will maintain its commitment to supporting innovative alumni-led projects by offering direct financial support to selected recipients. During the 2019–2020 cycle, this GSAPP Incubator Prize awards six alumni prizes of $10,000 to advance their projects and support new forms of engaged practice.
About Columbia GSAPP
Among the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York continuously seeks to advance the frontiers of scholarship and foster a campus community deeply engaged in the complex issues of our time. Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP) offers a range of programs in architecture, urban design and planning, historic preservation, and real estate development that bring together imagination, experimentation, and critical thinking towards new forms of research and practice. GSAPP is committed to shaping a more equitable, sustainable, and creative world by engaging architecture and the built environment from diverse and global perspectives. The school functions as an urban condenser of ideas and drives innovation and change through the leadership of its faculty, the excellence of its academic programs, the expansion of interdisciplinary opportunities as well as the richness of its research initiatives and events.
More information: GSAPP Incubator