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Professor Catie Newell Awarded Prestigious Rome Prize in Architecture

Each year, through a national competition, the Rome Prize is awarded to approximately thirty emerging artists and scholars representing the highest standard of excellence in the arts and humanities. This year's winners of the 117th competition were announced at the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Rome Prize Ceremony held at the Metropolitan Club in New York City on April 18th.

Taubman College is pleased to announce that Assistant Professor of Architecture, Catie Newell, was awarded the Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon Polsky Rome Prize in architecture for her project proposal titled, "Involving Darkness."

Involving Darkness

Following is a description of the project proposal which won the award:
Nightfall formulates a new city. With light limited to artificial sources and darkness expanded in space, geometries are heightened or masked, symmetries are obscured, masses are erased, and the air appears to have weight. The city dissolves into a peculiar optical fragmentation; its partially illuminated elements give the impression of being in suspension, and the adjoining darkened spaces lack clarity and definition. These compounding immaterial effects distort our spatial perception, making the once familiar setting unfamiliar by challenging both the visual appearance of space and its implied conditions of occupation. Our surroundings become formally obscured, and the physical extent of architecture is thrown into question. Owing to its capacity to manipulate and create unique spatial effects, darkness can be used as a design tool, revealing new environments and obscuring otherwise familiar ones, affording them unexpected dimensions. Involving Darkness will benefit from a setting where dominant formal conditions of symmetry, rhythm and axis are tools for manipulation, and the reworking of existing fragments is an ongoing technique for transforming the city. The outcome will be built installation work that utilizes material distortions, pressing on architecture, and adding formal mutations to the dark landscapes of Rome.

Rome Prize recipients are invited to Rome to immerse themselves in the Academy community where they will enjoy an opportunity to expand their own professional, artistic, or scholarly pursuits. Each Rome Prize winner is provided with a stipend, meals, a bedroom with private bath, and a study or studio. Winners of 6-month and 11-month fellowships receive stipends of $15,000 and $27,000, respectively. Winners of the 2 year fellowships receive $27,000 annually.

Catie Newell is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Newell joined the faculty in 2009 as the Oberdick Fellow. She received her Masters of Architecture from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science in architecture from Georgia Tech. In 2006 she was awarded the SOM Prize for Architecture, Design and Urban Design with her project proposal entitled Weather Permitting. Prior to joining the University of Michigan as the Oberdick Fellow, Newell worked as a project designer and coordinator at Office dA in Boston leading the design and completion of four awarding winning spaces.

Professor Newell is also a founding principal of Alibi Studio based in Detroit. Her work and research captures spaces and material effects, focusing on the development of new atmospheres through the exploration of textures, volumes, and the effects of light or lack thereof. Newell's creative practice has been widely recognized for exploring design construction and materiality in relationship to the specificity of location and geography and cultural contingencies. Newell won the 2011 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers.

Catie Newell

For more information about the award and to read the press release, visit the American Academy in Rome website.

Apr 24, 2013


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