Harvard GSD shortlists four architects for 2023 Wheelwright Prize

Harvard GSD’s 2023 Wheelwright Prize finalists are (left to right) Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, Maya Bird-Murphy, Isabel Abascal, and DK Osseo-Asare.

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Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) is pleased to announce four shortlisted architects for the 2023 Wheelwright Prize. The Wheelwright Prize is an international competition for early-career architects. Winners receive a $100,000 (USD) fellowship to foster intensive, innovative architectural research that is informed by cross-cultural engagement and can make a significant impact on architectural discourse. Winning research proposal topics in recent years have included the potential of seaweed, shellfish, and the intertidal zone to advance architectural knowledge and material futures; how spaces have been transformed through the material contributions of the African Diaspora; and new architecture paradigms for storing data that can reimagine digital infrastructure.

The 2023 Wheelwright Prize drew a wide pool of international applicants. A first-phase jury deliberated in April; a winner will be announced in June.

Jurors for the 2023 prize include: Noura Al Sayeh, head of Architectural Affairs for the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities; Mira Henry, design faculty at Southern California Institute for Architecture; Mark Lee, chair of the Department of Architecture and professor of practice at Harvard GSD; Jacob Riedel, assistant professor in practice of architecture at Harvard GSD; Enrique Walker, design Ccritic in architecture at Harvard GSD; and Sarah M. Whiting, dean and Josep Lluís Sert Professor of Architecture at Harvard GSD.

The four finalists for the 2023 Wheelwright Prize, and their proposals

Isabel Abascal: “Mother Architecture: Shaping Birth”

Isabel Abascal is a Mexico City–based architect and writer. In 2015, she founded the architecture studio LANZA Atelier, along with Alessandro Arienzo. From 2015 to 2017, Abascal was the executive director of LIGA, Espacio para Arquitectura, a platform dedicated to the dissemination and discussion of Latin American architecture.  Abascal studied architecture at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, the Technische Universität in Berlin, and at the Vastu Shilpa Foundation in Ahmedabad.

Maya Bird-Murphy: “Examining Architectural Practice Through Alternative Methodology and Pedagogy”

Maya Bird-Murphy is a designer, educator, and the founder of Mobile Makers, an award-winning nonprofit organization bringing design and skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities. She was selected by Theaster Gates and the Prada Group as an Experimental Design Lab awardee, featured as one of 50 people who shape Chicago in Newcity Magazine. Bird-Murphy attended Ball State University and received an M.Arch from Boston Architectural College.

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng: “Tracing Sand: Phantom Territories, Bodies Adrift”

Jingru (Cyan) Cheng works across architecture, anthropology, and filmmaking. Her practice follows drifting bodies — from rural migrant workers to forms of water — to draw out latent relations across scales, confronting intensified social injustice and ecological crisis. Cheng holds a Ph.D. by Design and M.Phil. in Architecture and Urban Design (Projective Cities) from the Architectural Association (AA).

DK Osseo-Asare: “Bucky in Africa: Remembering the Chemistry of Architecture”

DK Osseo-Asare is a Ghanaian American designer who makes buildings, landscapes, communities, objects, and digital tools. He is a co-founding principal of the trans-Atlantic architecture and integrated design studio Low Design Office (LowDo) and holds an appointment in Humanitarian Materials at the Pennsylvania State University. Osseo-Asare received an A.B. in Engineering Design and M.Arch. degrees from Harvard University.