The Marion Dean Ross chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians is pleased to offer the 2015 Elisabeth Walton Potter Research Award. The purpose of the EWP Research Award is to further awareness and knowledge of the architectural heritage of the Pacific Northwest. Awards range from $500 and $2000 in any given year and are awarded to from one to several recipients per year. Applications for the award are due by September 15, 2015. Recipients of the EWP award are expected to make a presentation on their research at the following year’s Society of Architectural Historians Marion Dean Ross conference. This year the SAH MDR conference will be held in Ashland, Oregon, October 23-25, 2015. For an application form and more information, go to: http://www.sahmdr.org/awards.html
In 2013, the EWP award provided assistance with two research projects. One award was given to Professor Anne Marshall for her paper entitled, “Indigenous Architecture: Creating the Museum At Warm Springs,” and one was awarded to independent consultant Liz Carter for her research, “Mid-Nineteenth Century Dwelling of Oregon Black Pioneers: A Brief Historical Context.” In 2014 the EWP Award went to a team at Washington State University headed by J. Philip Gruen and Robert Redder Franklin who are preparing entries for the national Society of Architectural Historians’ (SAH) Archipedia Project.
A Note for Applicants
The selection committee is open to a wide range of proposals. It has supported research in its initial phases, research that is well in progress and proposals from emerging scholars as well as established professionals. The core requirements are that the research focuses on the Pacific Northwest and that the applicant is a member of the SAH MDR. Student membership is free, while general membership costs a nominal $15 ($12.50 if you’re already a member of the national SAH). Applications for the Potter Award that are submitted by non-members will not be reviewed. So, sign up at http://www.sahmdr.org/membership.html. If you’re unsure about your membership status, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the 2014 Award Recipients
The SAH Archipedia is essentially an online version of the venerable, but slow to be released, Buildings of the United States series of books published under the auspices of the SAH. In contrast with other online resources, such as Wikipedia, Archipedia entries have a more certain pedigree and are guaranteed to be written and reviewed by experts in the field of architectural history. The Potter Award will help the Washington State University team provide small stipends to researchers who will produce descriptions, analysis, photography, and data regarding Washington’s 100 most significant works of architecture for the free online resource entitled “SAH Archipedia Classic Buildings.” Greater depth, and entries beyond the initial 100 is available to subscribers and members of the SAH.
According to Gruen’s and Franklin’s Potter Award application:
“The Washington Archipedia builds upon earlier research for the SAH Buildings of the United States series, compiled originally by members of the SAH/MDR chapter. That work drew upon the 1940 state census—before the post-World War Two urban population boom when rural areas featured a greater percentage of the state’s population—to help ensure more equitable geographic coverage that otherwise might be dominated by the architecture of cities bordering the Puget Sound. While including many significant works of architecture from those cities (such as Seattle and Tacoma), the Washington Archipedia project will proceed in the spirit of the older survey, thereby ensuring that nearly every county or region of the state finds representation. This also will allow for a potentially wider array of building typologies.
The contract specifies for 100 individual entries of between 250 and 2,000 words, but it does not delineate criteria for what constitutes “significance”—historical or otherwise. While many buildings, landscapes, and districts targeted for this project will be fifty years of age or older and designed by notable architects (there will, of course, be many entries focusing on the older architectural heritage of the state), the Washington Archipedia project is not intended to be an online guidebook with little more than names, dates, and “historical facts.” To help readers understand the architecture of the Pacific Northwest, the project coordinators will occasionally push the traditional limits of “historic significance” by including buildings, landscapes, and districts whose importance lies in their stories, events, memories, or ideas—not strictly in their aesthetics, styles, or fame of their designers. We feel that greater understanding comes from approaches that often extend well beyond the proverbial bricks and mortar of buildings.
To that end, a cultural landscape approach to the built environment may occasionally be appropriate. This will permit analysis, interpretation, and justification for sites as diverse as the Parkade in Spokane; the Freeway Park in Seattle; the B Reactor at Hanford Reach; and the plan of Longview. As the architecture of the Pacific Northwest has gained a widespread reputation for its pioneering efforts in “green” and sustainable design, landmarks in energy conservation and renewable materials also will find a place in the Washington Archipedia, from Mithun’s Island Wood on Bainbridge Island to Miller|Hull’s Bullitt Center in Seattle. Washington might be among the last states to join the Archipedia project, but we intend it to be progressive and up-to-date in its subject matter and approach. We hope it will set a standard for online architectural archives.”
The selection committee of the MDR SAH was impressed by both the scope of the Washington Archipedia project, as well as the applicants’ thoughtful approach toward the subject, particularly the question of what constitutes “significance.” To that end, Phil Gruen composed a lengthy blog post for the SAH, titled “Washington State Slept Here: SAH Archipedia and the Question of Significance.” Are you curious about what the WSU team has tagged as significant? A draft list is available by clicking Washington State Archipedia 100! The finalized Washington State contribution to Archipedia is set to go live during the summer of 2016. As of August 2015, entries for 19 states, including the District of Columbia can be perused at http://sah-archipedia.org/.