Dilip da Cunha, lecturer in urban planning and design at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, is one of two Harvard University professors among the 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship’s 175 awardees.
Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted Guggenheim Fellowships to scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and many other internationally recognized honors. This year, the foundation awarded its fellowships to a diverse group of 175 writers, scholars, artists, and scientists, chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-sixth competition. Collectively, the 2020 Fellows represent 53 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields.
Da Cunha is an architect and planner, with practice based in Philadelphia and Bangalore. In addition to his role as lecturer in urban planning and design at the GSD, he co-directs the GSD’s Master in Design Studies program’s Risk and Resilience concentration, and is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s GSAPP.
Da Cunha’s latest book is The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018); the book and its subject matter were the topic of Da Cunha’s 2019 Daniel Urban Kiley Lecture at the GSD. He is also author, with Anuradha Mathur, of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain (2006); Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009); and Design in the Terrain of Water (2014).
In 2017, Mathur and da Cunha launched Ocean of Rain, a design platform that seeks to situate the past, present, and future of habitation in a ubiquitous wetness rather than on a land-water surface. Also in 2017, Mathur and da Cunha received a Pew Fellowship Grant.
“I am honored to be named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation,” da Cunha says. “It will go a long way in furthering the Ocean of Rain project that I am working on as a sequel to The Invention of Rivers. It is a project that I hope will make a difference on how we see and design our ground of habitation and infrastructure, particularly in the wake of the current crisis.”
Created by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. In addition to the generous support of Senator Simon and Mrs. Olga Guggenheim, new and continuing donations from friends, Trustees, former Fellows, and other foundations have ensured that the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation will maintain its historic mission. An exceptionally generous bequest in 2019 from the estate of the great American novelist Philip Roth, a Fellow in 1959, is providing partial support for the wide variety of writers supported by the Foundation.
The full text of the 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship news is available via the Guggenheim Foundation announcement.