Seeking obsolescence: James Leng wins SOM Prize

This year the GSD is well represented among the winners and finalists of the SOM Prize, a program of the Skidmore Owings and Merrill Foundation. 

On July 30 the jury selected James Leng (MArch ’13) to receive the 2013 SOM Prize. The award provides a $50,000 research and travel fellowship to travel to carry out in-depth research outside the realm of established patterns. Leng will travel to regions on 4 continents, pursuing the topic “Useless Architectures: A Search for New Meanings After Obsolescence.” As Leng explains, “The notion of the obsolete is a familiar theme in architecture…However, the circumstances surrounding a building’s fall into disuse vary broadly from cultural shifts, disruptive technological innovation to even catastrophic disaster. As the rate of technological innovation and progress increases, it becomes critical to ask what becomes of architecture after usefulness?”

Arielle Assouline-Lichten (MArch ’13) and Edward Becker (MArch ’13) were among the 8 finalists for the Prize and the related SOM Travel Fellowship, which are administered as a single competition.

The portfolios, research abstracts, and travel itineraries of the award recipients will be posted on the SOM Foundation website later in August.

Photo by Steve Swayne.