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Sunday, April 23, 2017

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Prize launches first project for architecture center

An interdisciplinary team of Princeton faculty members and alumni, assembled to work together on urban research at a new Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure in the School of Architecture, has been awarded the American Institute of Architects' Latrobe Prize.

Princeton's project, which proposes an innovative approach to questions of urban ecology in the New York-New Jersey region, was selected by jury review for its promise of advancing professional knowledge in architecture.

The principal investigator is Guy Nordenson, professor of architecture. The others are James Smith, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the director of the Program in Environmental Engineering and Water Resources; Catherine Seavitt, a lecturer in architecture; and Princeton alumni Adam Yarinsky and Stephen Cassell of the Architecture Research Office in New York and Michael Tantala of Tantala Associates of Philadelphia and Margate, N.J. The $100,000 prize, awarded by the College of Fellows of the AIA, supports two years of research.

The project will examine the Upper New York Bay area and the urban ecology of New York Harbor and its waterways, and will propose ways to link the waterfronts of New York and New Jersey. In the project proposal, the team wrote, "There is an opportunity to continue the re-centering of the city away from Manhattan to the boroughs and adjoining New Jersey counties by recognizing the bay as the new 'Central Park,' a common 'ground' that can be for the region what the Bacino di San Marco is for Venice — a meeting place and crossroads on the water."

"There is urban development around the perimeter of the bay, but the body of water has yet to be integrated into the urban environment," Nordenson said. "The area isn't really thought about at this point as a great public space, and we want to steer people to thinking in those terms."

The project will be the first major effort by the Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure, established in the spring of 2006 to provide a platform for interdisciplinary research on issues of contemporary urbanism.

"Because cities today are so big and complex and have so many variables, the only effective way to work on urban problems is with a broad interdisciplinary approach," said Stan Allen, dean of the architecture school. "The center will exemplify Princeton's strengths in creating these interdisciplinary links. And this is a project that will engage faculty and students and make good use of the resources of the center."

Smith, an expert on water resources, will provide the team with the ability to integrate infrastructure planning with an understanding of the environment.

"The project provides an exciting opportunity to integrate studies of the urban environment with emerging ideas of urbanism and design for the urban waterfront," Smith said. "Working with the interdisciplinary team of researchers that Guy has assembled is especially appealing to me. I expect the project to stimulate interesting new areas of research and teaching at the University."

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