Harvard GSD awards 2013 Wheelwright Prize to architect Gia Wolff

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Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, is pleased to announce that Gia Wolff, an architect based in Brooklyn, New York, is the winner of the inaugural Wheelwright Prize, a $100,000 traveling fellowship dedicated to fostering new forms of architectural research informed by cross-cultural engagement.

The Wheelwright Prize jury—Mostafavi, Yung Ho Chang, Farès el-Dahdah, K. Michael Hays, Farshid Moussavi, Zoe Ryan, and Jorge Silvetti—selected Gia Wolff from among 231 applicants from 45 countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Spain. Applicants were asked to submit portfolios along with a research proposal and travel itinerary, outlining an extended field investigation and its anticipated benefits for the field of architecture.

Wolff is the first winner of the new Wheelwright Prize, an update of the Arthur Wheelwright Traveling Fellowship, which was established in 1935 and previously available only to GSD alumni. The original prize was conceived at a time when few architects traveled abroad, and for many early recipients—including Paul Rudolph, Eliot Noyes, William Wurster, and I. M. Pei—the fellowship financed travels that followed the tradition of the Grand European Tour.

Wolff’s winning proposal, Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats, proposes the study of the tradition of parade floats—elaborate temporary and mobile constructions that are realized annually in carnival festivals in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Goa (India), Nice (France), Santa Cruze de Tenerife (Spain), and Viarreggio (Italy).

The $100,000 grant will fund Wolff’s research over the next two years.